Researchers Find Inspirational Online Videos Could Lessen Prejudices

It can be simple to dismiss them as foolish spam designed to draw clicks—and to be sincere, lots of them might be. But a few of these videos and images can have a surprising benefit, according to analysis by Mary Beth Oliver, distinguished professor of communications, and co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory at Penn State. In turn, elevation can create feelings of higher kinship with and less prejudice towards diverse racial and ethnic teams. An instance of these videos are these of Kid President—the online alter ego of Robby Novak, an 11-year-old African-American with a brittle bone situation who creates and posts inspiring clips on YouTube.

His hottest video, “A Pep Talk from Kid President to You,” has been seen more than 35 million instances. To test her speculation, Oliver and her workforce of researchers break up 258 white undergraduate college students into three teams. One watched an inspiring video, the second watched a humorous video and the third watched an impartial video. Afterward, the participants have been rated on their reported emotions of elevation. Oliver found that those who watched the inspiring videos felt more elevation, and therefore felt a better connection to humanity general. These feelings of connection also led to higher feelings of closeness to others from completely different racial and ethnic teams. While the results of the videos had been clear, future work is needed to see how long-lasting the consequences could be.

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