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Reducing intergroup prejudice and conflict with the media: A field experiment in Rwanda

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  • Elizabeth Levy Paluck

    (Harvard University)

Abstract

Can the media reduce intergroup prejudice and conflict? Despite the high stakes of this question, understanding of the mass media’s role in shaping prejudiced beliefs, norms, and behaviors is very limited. A yearlong field experiment in Rwanda tested the impact of a radio soap opera about two Rwandan communities in conflict, which featured messages about reducing intergroup prejudice, violence, and trauma. Compared to communities who listened to a control radio soap opera, listeners’ perceptions of social norms and their behaviors changed concerning some of the most critical issues for Rwanda’s post conflict society, namely intermarriage, open dissent, trust, empathy, cooperation and discussion of personal trauma. However, the radio program did little to influence listeners’ personal beliefs. Group discussion was a notable feature of the listening experience. Taken together, the results suggest that radio can communicate social norms and influence behaviors that contribute to intergroup tolerance and reconciliation.

Suggested Citation

  • Elizabeth Levy Paluck, 2007. "Reducing intergroup prejudice and conflict with the media: A field experiment in Rwanda," HiCN Working Papers 34, Households in Conflict Network.
  • Handle: RePEc:hic:wpaper:34
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Alan S. Gerber & Dean Karlan & Daniel Bergan, 2009. "Does the Media Matter? A Field Experiment Measuring the Effect of Newspapers on Voting Behavior and Political Opinions," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 35-52, April.
    2. Stefano DellaVigna & Ethan Kaplan, 2007. "The Fox News Effect: Media Bias and Voting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1187-1234.
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    Cited by:

    1. William Easterly, 2009. "Can the West Save Africa?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 373-447, June.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Education-entertainment; prejudice reduction; conflict reduction; trauma; field experiment; mass media; radio; social norms;
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