Paper in Review of General Psychology
- White, F. A., Harvey, L., & Abu-Rayya, H. M. (2015). Improving intergroup relations in the Internet age: A critical review. Review of General Psychology, 19, 129-139.
In this Internet age where computer classrooms, smart phones, and tablet devices are becoming the norm, it is timely that social and educational psychologists integrate such technologies within the field of intergroup relations to develop innovative, effective, and validated tools to promote intergroup harmony. This critical review article introduces a new online contact strategy—Electronic- or E-contact—that allows for physically segregated ingroup and outgroup members to synchronously interact online, in a prestructured format. The synchronous nature of the intergroup interaction allows for the engagement of self in the contact situation that in turn strengthens the effectiveness of E-contact in promoting intergroup harmony. Previous research investigating online contact is reviewed, and an evaluation of a best-practice E-contact framework is provided. This framework is based on the successful 9-week Dual Identity Electronic Contact (DIEC) program that has been shown to maintain reductions in intergroup bias between Muslim and Christian students at 3 time periods: 2 weeks, 6 months, and 12 months post-DIEC intervention. Limitations of the Internet with regard to potentially creating negative contact are also highlighted to offer a balanced critique. Finally, future research designs are proposed to further support and enhance the success of E-contact research to improve intergroup relations and promote peace.