17-min of YouTube videos can reduce prejudice: Study

According to the University of Essex, prejudice toward mental health declined by 8 per cent and intergroup anxiety declined by 11 per cent among viewers. In a study published in Scientific Reports, researchers investigated how parasocial relationships - the connections people feel towards YouTube creators - influence their behaviour.

Watching just 17 minutes of YouTubers talking about their struggles with mental health can drive down prejudice, a research has suggested.

According to the University of Essex, prejudice toward mental health declined by 8 per cent and intergroup anxiety declined by 11 per cent among viewers.

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In a study published in Scientific Reports, researchers investigated how parasocial 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.

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

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"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.

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"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.

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"It seems this is the case, and signs that lower levels of prejudice have a long-term impact is an exciting avenue to explore," she added.

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