Character, contact, and stigma reduction: investigating mediated contact and U.S. digital stories of opioid use disorder

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Communication may play a key role in deconstructing existing stigmas. One popular initiative to reduce the stigma of opioid use disorder (OUD) is to increase contact between people in recovery and the public through digital storytelling. Why do some stories and storytellers make a more powerful impact? We drew upon the theory of character construction to offer new explanations for why mediated intergroup contact can facilitate positive intergroup outcomes. Across two studies (N = 209 and N = 191), exposure to recovery stories increased positive stereotypes and promoted future, interpersonal contact via transportation, intergroup ease, and outgroup variability. Two storyteller perceptions–fluid and multidimensional character–facilitated contact effects. The findings advance our understanding of how story content shapes a form of narrative persuasion, and its ability to improve intergroup relations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Applied Communication Research
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics

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