This Game Can Make People Less Prejudiced. Here’s How.

Can you name a female physicist?

It turns out just trying to do so may make you less likely to believe women aren’t good at science or math.

OK, it’s a little more complicated than that. But new research this week suggests that a game that prompts players to name real or fictional characters who fit certain combinations of attributes can actually reduce prejudice in those who play it. For years, researchers have explored the question of whether video games make people more violent, aggressive and prejudiced. But this new study, published in Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, adds to a growing body of work that shows that some games can actually change views and behaviors of players for the better.

For the study, researchers from Dartmouth University asked hundreds of middle school and high school students to play two games. One is Buffalo: The Name-Dropping Game, in which players are prompted to name female physicists (along with English wizards, “mischievous professors” and hundreds of other random combinations). The other is Awkward Moment, in which players contemplate what to do when, say, they spot a store in the mall selling T-shirts for girls that say “Math is hard!” (Options include sending out “a distress signal,” saying “P.U. That stinks!” and “Be like Marie Curie and win Nobel Prizes.”)

After the kids played Awkward Moment, researchers presented players with a set of photographs of men and women and told them they needed help trying to decide what role each character should play in a new, unreleased game. Those who played Awkward Moment were a third more likely to suggest that female characters should be scientists than those who played a version of the game without any “awkward moments” related to gender bias. —> Read More