After 6 years or so at Stanford, I have submitted, defended, and all the other rigamarole for my dissertation! And it has been approved by all the necessary entities. For those of you who are interested, it can be found here:
This two-part mixed methods study applies a dual processing model to explore the effects of digitally mediated empathy interventions on bias against marginalized groups, justice sensitivity, and helping behavior. Previous findings in the empathy literature suggest that while affective and cognitive empathy may be utilized to alter someone’s perception of a marginalized group in a beneficial manner, the complex relationship between an individual and the technology they use may modify these effects and render previous findings incomplete. Results revealed that prompting affective or cognitive empathy in response to video stimuli did not elicit positive perspective-taking or decrease bias against these groups. For scales of homophobia that experienced significant interaction effects, the distraction and cued comment condition had the least amount of bias. Similarly, for the illegal alien scale, the distraction condition produced the least biased results. Findings from the justice sensitivity scales show that the empathy condition increased personal justice sensitivity, while those in the distraction condition experienced comparatively higher levels of “other-oriented” concern. These findings suggest that instead of eliciting positive feelings about the marginalized groups, the empathy-specific prompts activated biases against the individual. Additional findings for the effects on helping behavior suggest a more nuanced outcome that does not correlate with outcomes expected from previous psychological research. All of the results suggest that digitally mediated video stimuli designed to elicit empathy for marginalized groups may have the opposite effect due to the complex nature of the interaction between online media and culture.