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In this manuscript, three studies examined the effects of viewing situation comedies on attitudes toward Black Americans. Study 1 was a content analysis of sitcoms that had either predominately Black casts (PBC) or predominately White casts (PWC) and showcased interracial interaction. It found that positive cross-racial interaction (interracial reciprocity) occurs in both types of shows, but is more common with PBC sitcoms. Study 2 was a survey that found watching PBC sitcoms was associated with reduced prejudice; while watching PWC sitcoms was associated with increased prejudice. These effects were mediated by positive reciprocity expectations, as explicated by Bounded Generalized Reciprocity theory. Study 3 was an experiment that found exposure to increased scenes of interracial reciprocity in PBC was associated with less negative attitudes toward Black Americans through the mechanism of reduced negative reciprocity expectations. Overall, we found sitcoms are associated with activating racial prejudice. However, the direction of these beliefs is in part determined by if the casts of these shows are predominantly Black or White.


Author accepted manuscript version of an article published by Taylor & Francis in

Morgan E. Ellithorpe, David R. Ewoldsen, Xuejing (Shay) Yao & Lanier F. Holt (2023) I Help You, You Help Me: Interracial Reciprocity in Situation Comedies Influences Racial Attitudes, Media Psychology,


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