Intergroup empathy

Online environments, such as social media, form global virtual spaces. In these, people from different backgrounds interact with each other, even if they come from countries or cultures that are engaged in conflict. This means that skills such as communication, teamwork, and empathy are important. When groups are kept apart, they are likely to develop negative stereotypes of each other. These stereotypes are associated with prejudice, hostility, and aggression. Members of groups that do not have opportunities for constructive social contact may think in terms of ‘us’ versus ‘them’. This perspective makes it difficult to empathise – to understand and share the feelings of members of the other group. The effects of intergroup conflicts can spill over into online communities, provoking strong negative emotions and the use of stereotypes. In such cases, activities designed to promote intergroup empathy can provide effective responses and help to reduce tensions.

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