Abstract: Online Music-Mediated Intergroup Contact - Promoting Outgroup Knowledge and Empathy of High Socioeconomic Status (SES) Junior Secondary Students for Low SES Lower Primary Students (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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Online Music-Mediated Intergroup Contact - Promoting Outgroup Knowledge and Empathy of High Socioeconomic Status (SES) Junior Secondary Students for Low SES Lower Primary Students

Saturday, January 14, 2023
Valley of the Sun E, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Hui Yun Li, Master of Music Therapy, PhD candidate, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Siu-Man Ng, PhD, Professor, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Man Wang, MSW, Research Social Worker, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Weiyi Xie, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Background: An increasing trend of education segregation was observed in Hong Kong over the past two decades. High socioeconomic status students became the majority in the Direct Subsidy Scheme (DSS) schools, which are often identified as elite schools in Hong Kong. Education segregation could lead to intergroup bias. Previous research suggested prejudiced attitudes from the elite students against low SES students. Qualitative research also discovered that elite school students tend to rationalize their privilege by personal effort instead of the environmental resources they have.

Early adolescence is a critical period shaping one’s views of self and world. It is crucial to help high SES junior secondary students to form empathetic outgroup understandings. This may be the first step helping the vicious cycle of increasing social segregation and intergroup misunderstandings.

Previous studies have shown music as collaborative tasks can facilitate deep level of engagement. In view of this worrying trend, we developed an online music-mediated intergroup contact intervention, aiming to primarily examine its efficacy on improving outgroup knowledge and empathy. Secondarily, we also aim to examine the efficacy of the intervention on reducing misunderstandings, prejudiced attitudes and increasing intended intergroup friendship.

Methods: The pilot study adopted a randomized trial. The online music-mediated program includes 8 weekly sessions to purposefully engaging high SES junior secondary students and low SES lower primary students going through a meaningful journey together. We adopted online contact mode to reduce barriers to joining the program.

Data and samples: We recruited 16 junior secondary students as our primary research population. Corresponding number of lower primary students were also recruited to the intervention group. Participants were recruited thorough the poster promotion in DSS schools and community centres.

Measures: Adapted scale from previous research was used to measure outgroup knowledge and misunderstandings and attitudes. Outgroup empathy was measured by Interpersonal Reactivity Index Chinese Version (C-IRI). Outgroup intended crossgroup friendship was measured by Outgroup Behaviour Tendency scale. Implicit measure was also used to measure the prejudiced attitudes. Measures were taken at the baseline, post-intervention, and 2-month-post intervention intervals.

Data analysis: Repeated measures MANOVA and ANOVA were adopted to examine the efficacy of the intervention.

Conclusion and implications: Our findings support the efficacy of the online music-mediated intergroup contact program in improving outgroup knowledge and empathy towards low SES primary students. This study has marked practical and theoretical significance. At practical level, being an online intervention, it can be easily scaled up and be available for potential participants in diverse locations. Not needing to travel or meet strangers in person, the intervention will have higher acceptability. At theoretical level, the study has demonstrated the feasibility of achieving in-depth intergroup engagement online. This novel contact model might be transferable to other context, including those with conflicting groups separated geographically.