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Promoting Inter-Ethnic Understanding and Empathy Using a Round Table Cinema Activity with Malaysian Malay and Chinese Students

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Abstract

The Round Table Cinema Activity (RTCA) is an intervention designed to promote improved multicultural understanding by having different social identity groups watch a carefully-selected film and take part in repeated dialogic exchanges. Here, we examined the efficacy of the RTCA paradigm at improving inter-ethnic understanding and empathy among members of different social identity groups from the same country (i.e., Malaysian Malays and Chinese). A total of 87 participants completed a measure of ethnocultural empathy before and after the RTCA paradigm, which involved watching the film Sepet, taking part in group discussions, and answering open-ended question about their experiences. Analyses of written responses suggested that the RTCA was successful at promoting intergroup dialogue and exchange of ideas. Analyses of quantitative data suggested significant and large improvements in ethnocultural empathy at post-intervention. Our findings suggest that the RTCA paradigm may be a useful tool for promoting inter-ethnic harmony in the Malaysian context.

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Correspondence to Viren Swami.

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All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of Perdana University’s Institutional Review Board and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Swami, V., Zahari, H.S., Mohd. Khatib, N.A. et al. Promoting Inter-Ethnic Understanding and Empathy Using a Round Table Cinema Activity with Malaysian Malay and Chinese Students. Integr. psych. behav. (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12124-020-09514-7

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Keywords

  • Round table cinema activity
  • Contact hypothesis
  • Intergroup contact
  • Ethnocultural empathy
  • Malaysia