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What comforts targets of prejudice the most
Date:1/17/2014

Rare in history are moments like the 1960s civil rights movement, in which members of a majority group vocally support minority groups in their fight against prejudice. New research not only confirms the power of speaking up for those facing prejudice but also underlines the importance of exactly what is communicated. Looking at YouTube video messages, researchers found that homosexual youth found the most comfort in messages that both supported them and advocated social change.

The new work takes a closer look at the "It Gets Better" YouTube campaign. "Like many people, I was fascinated and inspired when I saw the grassroots online movement that started in late 2010 of people posting video messages to teenagers who faced prejudice and harassment based on their actual or presumed sexual orientation," says Aneeta Rattan of London Business School. "I was not just moved as an individual, but as a researcher because this behavior publicly addressing prejudice toward another group and communicating support for members of that group is so rare that there is not a clear body of psychological science on it."

Rattan along with collaborator Nalini Ambady of Stanford University decided to use the YouTube videos as a window into the content and impact of such "intergroup" communication. "Social media is a new frontier for communicating intergroup attitudes," Rattan says. In contrast, past research has shown that majority group members rarely confront prejudice in person.

First, Rattan and Ambady analyzed the content of the 50 most viewed videos with the #ItGetsBetter hashtag, which together were viewed more than 15 million times. "We wanted to capture the complexity of people's naturalistic communications, but we also wanted to be able to test for systematic differences in what people said," Rattan says.

They "coded" the messages in the videos as either: messages of comfort, of social connection, or of social change. "Just saying, 'i
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Contact: Lisa M. P. Munoz
spsp.publicaffairs@gmail.com
703-951-3195
Society for Personality and Social Psychology
Source:Eurekalert

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