Following the advice of Washington (2019): “Society is multidimensional not monolithic, so the beautiful mosaic of all people should be represented”, this study wants to combat racism and sexism by exposure to positive exemplars from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups.
Recent events in the United States have prominently surfaced issues of race and ethnicity; a rise in hate crimes targeting people of Black, Asian, Arab, and other origins. It is not that racism has reappeared, as much as that ongoing racism that never went away is currently receiving more visibility (Ogburu et al., 2021).
Although media consumption can facilitate exposure to different racial identities and reduce racial bias, this potential is not being utilized. Mass media has a massive reach in society and serves as a crucial filter through which people learn about each other (Ross & Tara, 2021). Indeed, the current practices in the media are not only inattentive to the social inequality, but also worthening the situation through promoting stereotypical believes (Perry et al., 2013; Park et al., 2006). In the absence of live experience, films and different media types are often understood as authentic reflections of real life (Rae et al., 2015). The media, however, does not deliver a fair image of racial minority individuals. Countless studies demonstrate that mass media continue to reproduce ethnic and racial stereotypes with often harmful effects that promote public hostility toward minorities and lower ethnic minority individuals’ self-esteem (Qian et al., 2017; Jarrell et al., 2021; Hughey et al., 2009; Gonzalez et al., 2017; FitzGerald et al., 2019).
In this study, we examine whether exposure to positive exemplars from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups can mitigate the existing interconnected racial and gender biases among a white audience. We propose to implement exposure to counterstereotypical exemplars using an inspirational speech application. Users will see daily inspirational talks through the app. Inspiration is a key driver of human behavior. Some individuals consider inspirational talks to have a transformational impact on their lives by helping create believe in their abilities and helping them see how they can be successful.
In summary, we address the following research questions in this study:
RQ1: Can exposure to positive non-white exemplars reduce racial bias against those non-white populations?
RQ2: Can exposure to positive female exemplars reduce gender bias against females?
RQ3: Can exposure to positive non-white female exemplars be used to reduce both racial and gender bias against non-white females (interaction between RQ1 and RQ2)?
RQ4: Is there a positive effect of watching inspirational videos on individuals’ mental health?
To answer these research questions, we will conduct a controlled experiment in which participants watch inspirational videos presented by speakers whose races and genders are either uniform (resp. white, male) or diverse. Participants will be told that the goal of the study is to examine whether inspirational talks have positive effects on mental health and productivity in their real life after the coronavirus pandemic. They will watch and evaluate one inspirational video per day for two weeks. The participants will answer a questionnaire assessing their mental health and productivity after watching each video.
Some participants will not have diversity in their inspirational videos (control group), while others will have 60% of videos presented by different racial and/or gender minorities (treatment group). At the end of the experiment, we test our research questions: participants will be asked to rate a LinkedIn profile of an applicant who purportedly wants to join our software development team. The LinkedIn profiles will be identical except for the name and profile pictures of the applicants. This is to examine whether participants’ evaluations will be biased against underrepresented individuals and whether exposure to speakers from minority race and gender groups can mitigate race and gender biases (e.g., whether a white male applicant will receive a higher rating compared to a black female applicant).
If the results of the study are as expected, we can infer that media that delivers a positive fair image of minorities can be used to raise awareness in society and mitigate the harmful effects produced by mass media in the past. Consequently, this can have a longitudinal effect in presenting an authentic mirroring of society minorities and reducing biases and prejudice.
The experiment has a 5 (Race options: White vs. Black vs. Asian vs. Indian vs. Middle East) X 2 (gender: male vs. female) between-subject design. In the experiment, participants are randomly assigned to one of these ten conditions.
We will only recruit participants who live in the United States, as the concepts of race and gender differ from one community to another. Further, we will restrict participation to people who are White/Caucasian, as they are considered to be the majority of the population in the United States.
An inspirational speech application will be developed to implement the exposure to positive exemplars with different race and gender presented by the inspirational speakers. To mask the true focus of the study, each participant will watch 40% of the videos presented by white male speakers, while in the remaining 60% of the videos, the speaker will have different manipulated race and gender conditions.
To analyze the perceived bias towards minorities, the participants will be asked to evaluate LinkedIn profile of a software developer who wants to join the software team and contribute to the app development. The participants will be assigned to one of the ten applicant profiles depending on which group of minorities they watch their videos the most. All LinkedIn profiles contain the same information but differ in the applicant’s name and personal photo. The evaluation will be based on pre-validated measurement scales used to evaluate bias in previous research including application quality, overall applicant likability, and perceived technical skill.
Using the G-Power tool, we conducted an a priori power analysis to determine the required number of participants indicating a medium effect size of interest (f=.25) in an F test (ANOVA, fixed main and interaction effects) involving 10 groups (5X2 design). To achieve power of .85, 30 participants are needed per condition, or at least 300 participants in total. We will recruit 500 participants to account for potential mistakes during the experiment.
The study will start by using the application for 20 minutes per day for two weeks and end with a 10 minutes survey. Each participant will be paid £15 based on the prolific rate. Therefore, we estimate the total cost for the study to be £9975, that consists of £7500 for participant payments and £2475 for the 33% Prolific fee. Additionally, participants who complete the full two weeks will get a hefty bonus.
The experimental design and hypotheses are pre-registered at aspredicted.org. Here is the link. We will make data and codes available on our websites as well as on the publishing Journal’s platform after peer-reviewed publication of the study.
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