DOI: 10.1002/jad.12234 ISSN:

A war on prejudice: The role of media salience in reducing ethnic prejudice

Beatrice Bobba, Jochem Thijs, Elisabetta Crocetti
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology and Child Health



Ethnic prejudice poses a great challenge to the cohesion of current multicultural societies. Prior research has found that media portrayals of immigration‐related issues might skew individual attitudes and feelings toward ethnic minorities. While these studies have focused on negative representations of ethnic minorities, less is known about the effects of media reports of unfortunate events affecting the victims of war, as in the case of the Ukrainian group in the Russia–Ukraine war. Therefore, the current research aims to examine whether media salience of this situation might change adolescents' ethnic prejudice against the Ukrainian minority.


A total of 1016 ethnic‐majority Italian adolescents (Mage = 15.66, SDage = 1.17, 49.61% females) completed online questionnaires during school hours before (T1: January/February 2022) and after (T2: April/May 2022) the Russia–Ukraine war onset. Additionally, the media salience of the war was quantified separately for the national newspaper and Twitter.


Levels of prejudice significantly decreased from T1 to T2 for multiple ethnic minority groups but especially so for the Ukrainian group. The results of bivariate Latent Change Score models highlighted that increased salience of the war in the national newspaper was significantly associated with decreased prejudice against Ukrainians, regardless of adolescents' levels of self‐reported newspaper consumption. Conversely, changes in the salience of the war on Twitter were not associated with changes in prejudice.


These findings highlight the importance of media attention for the war's victims in skewing individuals' outgroup perceptions and feelings.

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