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Digital Media

Transformations in Human Communication

Edited By Paul Messaris and Lee Humphreys

The age of digital media has given rise to a new social world. It is a world in which the transmission of information from the few to the many is steadily being supplanted by the multi-directional flow of facts, lies, and ideas. It is a world in which hundreds of millions of people are voluntarily depositing large amounts of personal details in publicly accessible databases. It is a world in which interpersonal relationships are increasingly being conducted in the virtual sphere. Above all, this is a world that seems to be veering off in unpredictable ways from the trends of the immediate past. This book is a probing examination of that world, and of the changes that it has ushered into our lives.

In more than thirty essays by a wide range of scholars, this must-have second edition examines the impact of digital media in six areas – information, persuasion, community, gender and sexuality, surveillance and privacy, and cross-cultural communication – and offers an invaluable guide for students and scholars alike. With one exception, all essays are completely new or revised for this volume.

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Chapter 28: What Lies Behind Online Intergroup Contact?: Promoting Positive Emotions (Yair Amichai-Hamburger / Shir Etgar)


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What Lies Behind Online Intergroup Contact?

Promoting Positive Emotions

Yair Amichai-Hamburger and Shir Etgar

A “group” is defined as two or more people who interact with one another, share similar characteristics, and have a shared sense of unity (Tajfel & Turner, 1979). But groups are more than that: they have a powerful influence on their group members’ identity. People perceive themselves not purely as unique individuals but also as group members (Turner, 1985), and readily classify one another as members of their own groups (in-groups) or of other groups (out-groups) (Allport, 1954; Tajfel & Turner, 1979). This classification is accompanied by beliefs about what members of these other groups are like—classification that may or may not be accurate in reality. These beliefs are known as stereotypes. Stereotypes tend to be relatively simple and fail to sufficiently recognize the heterogeneity of members of other groups (Linville & Jones, 1980; Park & Rothbart, 1982; Quattrone & Jones, 1980).

Such simplified stereotypes contribute to people’s prejudices against other groups. Although prejudice has traditionally been conceptualized and measured on a valence scale (i.e., dislike/like, cold/warm, etc.), newer approaches indicate that prejudices may be better characterized in terms of the specific emotions (e.g., fear, anger, disgust) felt toward the group (e.g., Devos, Silver, Mackie, & Smith, 2002). For example, Image Theory (Brewer & Alexander, 2002) proposes that people possess a set of potential mental “images” of out-groups, each of...

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