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Using D&D to reduce ethnic prejudice

OK, not quite D&D—I just wrote that to get Bob’s attention. It is a role-playing game, though!

Here’s the paper, “Seeing the World Through the Other’s Eye: An Online Intervention Reducing Ethnic Prejudice,” by Gabor Simonovits, Gabor Kezdi, and Peter Kardos:

We report the results of an intervention that targeted anti-Roma sentiment in Hungary using an online perspective-taking game. We evaluated the impact of this intervention using a randomized experiment in which a sample of young adults played this perspective-taking game, or an unrelated online game. Participation in the perspective-taking game markedly reduced prejudice, with an effect-size equivalent to half the difference between voters of the far-right and the center-right party. The effects persisted for at least a month, and, as a byproduct, the intervention also reduced antipathy toward refugees, another stigmatized group in Hungary, and decreased vote intentions for Hungary’s overtly racist, far-right party by 10%. Our study offers a proof-of-concept for a general class of interventions that could be adapted to different settings and implemented at low costs.

Simonovits wrote:

The paper is similar to some existing social psychology studies on perspective taking but we made an effort to improve on the credibility of the analysis by (1) using a relatively large sample (2) registering and following a pre-analysis plan (3) using pre-treatment measures to explore differential attrition and (4) estimating long term effects of the treatment. It got desk-rejected from PNAS and Psych Science but was just accepted for publication in APSR.

I agree that: (1) a large sample can’t hurt, (2) preregistration makes this sort of result much more believable, (3) using pre-treatment variables can be crucial in getting enough precision to estimate what you care abut, and (4) richer outcome measures can help a lot.


  1. Justin says:

    It shouldn’t, but it continues to amaze me how editors at places like PNAS and Psychological Science use desk rejections…

  2. Very good subject. I’ll get to it this evening hopefully. I was influenced by Gordon Allport’s books

  3. I guess it is behind a paywall. Of course Gordon Allport is cited

  4. Manoel Galdino says:

    I didn’t read the paper, but it sounds right that PNAS and Psychological Science rejected it. How they dare to suggest that pre-registred studies with large sample are possible?

  5. Manoel Galdino says:

    *large samples

  6. The orcs, goblins, and kobolds of Faerûn may disagree about the efficacy of treating prejudice with D&D. And don’t get me started on the duergar (gray dwarves) and drow (dark elves).

  7. Xi'an says:

    You got my attention as well. I thought that fantasy was coming at last on this platform. (And I second Bob’s views on the drows…)

  8. Alex Lamb says:

    In general I’m skeptical of these kinds of experiments because I suspect that the subjects can guess the intent of the experiment and go along with it accordingly (or depending on whatever conclusion they want the researchers to draw).

    Is this possibility generally taken seriously in the social sciences? I feel like it also applies to a lot of survey-based research.

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