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Watching YouTube videos for 17 minutes can taper down prejudices, says study

Watching YouTube videos for 17 minutes can taper down prejudices, says study

San Francisco: A new research by the University of Essex suggested that watching just 17 minutes of YouTubers talking about their struggles with mental health can drive down prejudice towards mental disorders.

The prejudice toward mental health declined by 8 per cent and intergroup anxiety declined by 11 per cent among viewers, according to the study.

In the study published in Scientific Reports, researchers investigated how para-social relationships - the connections people feel towards YouTube creators - influence their behaviour.

Hundreds of people participated in the study by watching videos of a woman who later revealed she had a borderline personality disorder (BPD) and discussed common misconceptions about her condition, according to the research.

After only 17 minutes of watching her content, levels of explicit prejudice and intergroup anxiety decreased.

"This is an exciting piece of research which is vital considering the impact online content has on people's lives," said Dr Shaaba Lotun who led the study.

A week later, a follow-up survey revealed that lower prejudice levels had been maintained and that around 10 per cent of participants had taken additional actions to support mental health initiatives, such as fundraising.

"There are more than 2.5 billion active users on YouTube every month and it can have a huge impact on the global conversation. We wanted to see if a creator talking about their mental health disorder could positively impact the people watching them," said Lotun.

"News presenters, fictional characters, social media creators, everyone forms one sided relationships with the world around them. Over 250 million hours of video are watched on YouTube every day, and social media allows people from all communities to share their stories on their own terms. Obviously, there is a flip-side to the positives this can bring, with bad faith creators able to stir up prejudice and spread hate.

"A lot has been written and reported on the negative effect social media can have on all of our lives, but I wanted to see if it could also be harnessed as a tool to improve society. It's exciting to explore the large-scale positive impact this might have to increase understanding and decrease prejudice within society," She added.

-IANS Inputs

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TAGS:Research YouTube clinical psychology 
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