Using D&D to reduce ethnic prejudice

November 8, 2017

(This article was originally published at Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science, and syndicated at StatsBlogs.)

OK, not quite D&D—I just wrote that to get Bob’s attention. It is a role-playing game, though!

Here’s the paper, “Seeing the World Through the Other’s Eye: An Online Intervention Reducing Ethnic Prejudice,” by Gabor Simonovits, Gabor Kezdi, and Peter Kardos:

We report the results of an intervention that targeted anti-Roma sentiment in Hungary using an online perspective-taking game. We evaluated the impact of this intervention using a randomized experiment in which a sample of young adults played this perspective-taking game, or an unrelated online game. Participation in the perspective-taking game markedly reduced prejudice, with an effect-size equivalent to half the difference between voters of the far-right and the center-right party. The effects persisted for at least a month, and, as a byproduct, the intervention also reduced antipathy toward refugees, another stigmatized group in Hungary, and decreased vote intentions for Hungary’s overtly racist, far-right party by 10%. Our study offers a proof-of-concept for a general class of interventions that could be adapted to different settings and implemented at low costs.

Simonovits wrote:

The paper is similar to some existing social psychology studies on perspective taking but we made an effort to improve on the credibility of the analysis by (1) using a relatively large sample (2) registering and following a pre-analysis plan (3) using pre-treatment measures to explore differential attrition and (4) estimating long term effects of the treatment. It got desk-rejected from PNAS and Psych Science but was just accepted for publication in APSR.

I agree that: (1) a large sample can’t hurt, (2) preregistration makes this sort of result much more believable, (3) using pre-treatment variables can be crucial in getting enough precision to estimate what you care abut, and (4) richer outcome measures can help a lot.

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