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UH study shows media may affect racial bias

A UH study has shown that long-time exposure to stereotypical news can lead to negative attitudes toward specific social groups.

The study, conducted by Jack J. Valenti School of Communication associate professor Temple Northup, was published in the International Journal of Communication and found that mainstream media influences racial or social bias.

“The more news media you use, the more racial bias you demonstrate, at least at an unconscious level,” Northup said. “In the US, the research looked at the amount of local TV news people watched, and the more TV news people watched, the more bias there was against African Americans.”

An empirical study done in Austria and the US has found that reading crime articles in the newspaper significantly influenced the participants’ negative implicit attitudes towards foreigners.

“African Americans are over-represented as criminals in US local TV news compared to their actual crime rates,” said Northup.

Northup found that a mainstream media bias can potentially affect student attitudes and lead to discriminatory behaviors towards specific social groups.

Northup hopes that studying this phenomenon can help “educate people about the stereotypes that may be present and how they can influence your personal beliefs.”

“There is research that suggests (that) being aware of these negative stereotypes and their effects is enough to help offset what you watch,” Northup said.

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