Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Evaluation of Intercultural Instructional Multimedia Material on Implicit Xenophobie Cognition: Short Time Effects on Implicit Information Processing

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Evaluation of Intercultural Instructional Multimedia Material on Implicit Xenophobie Cognition: Short Time Effects on Implicit Information Processing

Article excerpt


Understanding another's cultural backgrounds as well as our own is one of the most important skills in today's society. Every day, we face situations and social interactions that might be perceived as strange because they are different from our own culture. However, intercultural education could support the process of establishing a peaceful coexistence between cultures when one is confronted with new and unfamiliar intercultural exchanges. That is, intercultural education might contribute to support a change of perspective that can reduce prejudices, resentments, and unfounded fears of any type of foreignness one may encounter.

Most of our beliefs and ideas of other countries and cultures are not based on personal contacts with foreign people but rather are outcomes of traditional lore (cf. Budke, 2008). Such tradition might manifest itself in xenophobic jokes, expressions, cartoons, and propaganda of ultraconservative and right-wing parties. Stereotypes might lead to dubious conclusions and predictions about people from foreign countries. Sometimes, even teaching (e.g., geography courses), might contribute to the generation of stereotypes (cf. Markom & Weinhaupl, 2007).

However, emographic change makes immigration necessary, for example, to sustain the Western socio-economic system. As such, intercultural competencies, and thus, intercultural education is necessary in a multicultural society. Globalization leads to the fact that people are confronted with foreignness within their traditional settings. To avoid a "Clash of Civilizations" as predicted by Huntington (1993), and to assure that ethnical diversity will be recognized as an economic and social viability, a specialized education seems to be necessary. This education should serve to mediate cultural differences among people of different origins.

The current investigation was designed to develop and examine a specialized instructional multimedia material that was based on recent psychological and pedagogical research findings. The main objective of the learning program was to foster attitudinal change in students regarding prejudices, stereotypes, and perceptions of foreignness against people from other cultures. A higher level of education is often seen as a predictor of tolerance and positive attitudes towards a multicultural society. Education also enhances tolerance for others (cf. Noack, 2001; Rippl & Seipel, 2002). Pettigrew and Martin (1987) suggest that education might contribute to a change of attitudes and, in turn, help reduce xenophobic attitudes. Therefore, a learning environment was developed that could help learners' reflect upon their behaviors and attitudes towards foreigners and consequently, reduce the xenophobic attitudes they may have held. Nevertheless, conducting such training does not automatically guarantee its success. It still remains unclear if education can lead to a change in xenophobic attitudes. Hence it is necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of the training. In the present study, the success of the learning program depended on the strength of the negative association to foreignness and the ability of the intervention program to produce a change. Negative associations are sometimes difficult to change because they are products of socialization and educational processes that have developed over many years.

Intertwined with this problem is the finding that assessing prejudices, stereotypes or other dimensions of xenophobia implies the use of a multi-methodological approach, to obtain not only explicit, but also covert, implicit values. Thus, as part of the current empirical investigation, several methods were developed to measure xenophobic attitudes and stereotypes.

Taken together, the current study was designed to answer the following research question: can an instructional multimedia material lead to a significant change in attitudes as well as covert and implicit xenophobic self-concepts? …

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