Using academic research to create social good

We use technology to encourage imagined play with new friends around the world. Our materials align with the latest research in imagined contact, a new approach to bias and prejudice reduction that is particularly effective with young children.

From October 2016 we will collaborate with the University of Kent (UK) to examine how digital media can be used to tackle prejudice in children. More here: Press Release Feb 10, 2016

Friendship reduces bias

The research shows that while intergroup contact generally reduces prejudice, it is most effective when it consists of close, high quality intergroup relationships such as those afforded by cross-group friendships. Cross-group friendship changes attitudes and behaviors, with positive consequences stretching potentially across society and around the globe. With the help of technology we open up ways to turn global learning into a personal experience by bringing users as close as possible to their real peers around the globe. Our materials are designed to make positive intergroup interaction appear attractive and doable for young children.

Imagined contact paves the way

Unfortunately, the opportunity to form cross-group friends can be hindered by geographic, linguistic and even anxiety-related obstacles. When positive direct intergroup contact is not yet feasible or realistic, extensive research has found that imagined contact can play a crucial role in removing barriers and smoothing the path toward positive interaction. Imagined contact has been shown to:
- Improve intergroup attitudes (a)
- Increase behavioral intentions to engage with the outgroup (b)
- Enhance the projection of positive traits on the outgroup (c)
- Reduce self-stereotyping and stereotype threat (d)
- Increase confidence about successful future intergroup interactions (e)
- Reduce intergroup anxiety (f)
- Increase outgroup trust (g)
- Enhance contact self-efficacy (h)
- Lead to positive approach-related behavior toward the out-group (i)
Globe Smart Kids helps pave the way for real cross-group friendships in the future.

Young childhood window of opportunity

Our products target children from 4 – 10 years because this is when we can have the biggest impact. Children at school age are at a formative phase where imagination and imagery are key components of how they learn about the world. Young childhood is the ideal time to use imagined contact to reduce or even help move children beyond prejudice. At a very young age children start to notice differences in people and very often they develop different attitudes towards those in their group vs. those in a different group. Introducing positive experiences with others while these differences are being recognized and opinions formed is key. Young children have vivid imaginations. A child’s ability and motivation to imagine, and even step into, worlds beyond their own is immense. It’s the perfect window of opportunity to encourage cross-group friendship.

Ripple effect

The positive effects of intergroup contact are far-reaching. The attitude and behavior changes radiate out, positively influencing others and making it more likely that they will also engage in positive intergroup contact. A happy ripple effect that helps us all build a better world together.

Research terms explained

Intergroup contact (direct) : Interacting with someone from another group influences your attitudes towards them. When it’s a good experience, you’re more likely to choose to repeat it. Over time this positively affects not only your view of that group but also makes you more positive about other groups you don’t yet know. (1)
Cross-group friendship: The trust, empathy and emotional closeness shared by friends make cross-group friendship the most powerful way to reduce bias and prejudice between groups. (2)
Extended contact (indirect): Our attitudes and behavior are influenced by observing people from our own group interacting with those from another group. Witnessing a positive intergroup interaction encourages us to do the same. (3)
Imagined contact: When direct contact isn’t yet possible, imagined contact can encourage positive contact in the future. By imagining yourself interacting with someone from a different group you can positively affect your attitudes and willingness to interact with people from other groups. (4)
Start young: Imagination and mental imagery play a large role in how children learn about the world. Imagined contact is a powerful, flexible and low-cost strategy that works well in educational contexts as a first step toward more positive intergroup relations. (5)

Bibliography

1) - Pettigrew, T. F. and Tropp, L. (2011). When groups meet: The dynamics of intergroup contact. New York: Psychology Press.

2) - Pettigrew, T. F. (1997). Generalized intergroup contact effects on prejudice. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 23, 173-185.
- Davies, K., Wright, S. C., & Aron, A. (2011). Cross-group friendships: How interpersonal connections encourage positive intergroup attitudes. In L. R. Tropp & R. K. Mallet (Eds.), Moving beyond prejudice: Pathways to positive intergroup relations. (pp. 119-138). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

3) - Wright, S. C., Aron, A., McLaughlin-Volpe, T., & Ropp, S. A. (1997). The extended contact effect: Knowledge of cross-group friendships and prejudice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 73-90. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.73.1.73.
- Wright, S. C., Aron, A., & Brody, S. M. (2008). Extended contact and including others in the self: Building on the Allport/Pettigrew legacy. In U. Wagner, L.R. Tropp, G. Finchilescu, & C. Tredoux (Eds.), Improving intergroup relations: Building on the legacy of Thomas F. Pettigrew (pp. 143-159). Malden, MA: Blackwell.

4) - Crisp, R. J. & Turner, R. N. (2009). Can imagined interactions produce positive perceptions? Reducing prejudice through simulated social contact. American Psychologist , 64, 231-240. doi:10.1037/a0014718
- Miles, E. & Crisp, R. J. (2014). A meta-analytic test of the imagined contact hypothesis. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 17, 3-26.

5) - Miles, E. & Crisp, R. J. (2014). A meta-analytic test of the imagined contact hypothesis. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 17, 3-26.
- Stathi, S., Cameron, L., Hartley, B., & Bradford, S. (2014). Imagined contact as a prejudice-reduction intervention in schools: the underlying role of similarity and attitudes. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 44, 536-546.
- Vezzali, L., Capozza, D., Giovannini, D.,& Stathi, S. (2011). Improving implicit and explicit intergroup attitudes using imagined contact: An experimental intervention with elementary school children. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 15(2), 203-212.

a) Harwood, Paolini, Joyce, Rubin, & Arroyo, 2011; Husnu & Crisp, 2010a; Turner & Crisp, 2010; Turner, Crisp & Lambert, 2007; West, Holmes & Hewstone, 2011
b) Husnu & Crisp, 2010a, 2010b
c) Stathi & Crisp, 2008
d) Abrams et al., 2008; Crisp & Abrams, 2008
e) Stathi, Crisp, & Hogg, 2011
f) Turner, et al., 2007; West, Holmes, & Hewstone, 2011
g) Turner, West, & Christie, XXX in press; Vezzali, Capozza, Stathi, et al., 2012
h) Stathi, Crisp, & Hogg, 2011
i) Turner & West, 2012