Haley R. Hatfield (PhD student) and Sun Joo (Grace) Ahn, “Do Black Lives Matter in the Empathy Machine? Creating a Shared Reality to Disrupt Whiteness with Immersive 360-Degree Videos”
Abstract: The summer of 2020 brought increased participation and support for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement following accounts of police use of lethal force toward Black individuals. As protests spread, many white people realized their lived experiences were different from Black people. Unfortunately for some, this realization did not last longer than a viral trend on social media. Whiteness, the societal formations embedded from past colonialism and white domination, may control much of the narrative surrounding prosocial movements like BLM and restrain some individuals from sharing an antiracist worldview. This study tests two competing theoretical frameworks and examines how a shared reality with a Black or white speaker delivering an antiracist message can be supported or hindered with immersive 360-degree video platforms. Pilot data with student samples showed that greater immersion causes adverse reactions toward a white speaker but not a Black speaker. This study seeks to build from pilot investigations to 1) understand the relationship between immersive 360 videos and prosocial attitudes and behaviors, 2) explore the underlying affective processes with psychophysiological measurements, and 3) recruit a representative non-student sample to understand how creating a shared reality can disrupt Whiteness and promote prosocial behaviors. The expected results will inform journalism and mass communication research about Whiteness and immersion’s role in creating a shared reality relating to antiracist worldviews.
Abstract: The summer of 2020 brought increased participation and support for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement following accounts of police use of lethal force toward Black citizens. As protests spread, many white people seemed to realize their lived experiences were different from those of Black Americans. Unfortunately, whiteness, or societal structures rooted in the legacies of colonialism and white domination, may have failed to make this realization last longer than a viral trend on social media. This study decenters whiteness to examine how a shared reality with a Black or white speaker delivering an antiracist message can be supported or hindered using immersive 360-degree video platforms. Results show that greater immersion can cause adverse reactions toward a white speaker but not a Black speaker. Additionally, higher immersion strengthened positive perceptions of the Black speaker resulting in a stronger sense of shared reality which led to greater willingness to support organizations like BLM and advocate for policy reform.
Abstract: Social media provide the opportunity to create and maintain online and offline social relationships (Kuss & Griffiths, 2011, 2017), though they also provide opportunities to influence public discourse (Bennett, 2012; Carney, 2016) via the dissemination of important information at rapid rates (Hornik, Satchi, Cezareo, & Pastore, 2015). One element of public discourse highly shaped by social media is the Black Lives Matter movement (Carney, 2016), which has been fueled by the rapid and wide dissemination of video evidence of unnecessary use of force by police against citizens of color. One of the main reasons these pieces of information are shared more widely and quickly is that they are negative in valence; individuals tend to comment on and share negative information more, especially when it is extreme (Hornik et al., 2015). However, research has not examined how structure and content in use of force videos contribute to emotional responses, sharing, and commenting behaviors. This project examined how camera angle and skin tone of the citizen being harmed affected not only emotional responses but also how likely viewers were to comment on and share the videos in their social media feeds. Further, we examined what types of comments they leave.