Academic Research

  • Working Paper

    Reducing Prejudice and Support for Religious Nationalism Through Conversations on WhatsApp

    Working Paper, September 2023

    View Article View abstract

    Can a series of online conversations with a marginalized outgroup member improve majority group members’ attitudes about that outgroup? While the intergroup contact literature provides (mixed) insights about the effects of extended interactions between groups, less is known about how relatively short and casual interactions may play out in highly polarized settings. In an experiment in India, I bring together Hindus and Muslims for five days of conversations on WhatsApp, a popular messaging platform, to investigate the extent to which chatting with a Muslim about randomly assigned discussion prompts affects Hindus’ perceptions of Muslims and approval for mainstream religious nationalist statements. I find that intergroup conversations greatly reduce prejudice against Muslims and approval for religious nationalist statements at least two to three weeks post-conversation. Intergroup conversations about non-political issues are especially effective at reducing prejudice, while conversations about politics substantially decrease support for religious nationalism. I further show how political conversations and non-political conversations affect attitudes through distinct mechanisms.

    Area of Study

    Date Posted

    Sep 09, 2023


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