Tongue-tied ties : effects of language, intergroup boundaries and goal attainment in intergenerational gameplay
Sng, Jeremy R. H.
Date of Issue2017
Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information
As the world population ages, interactions between the young and old in everyday life will be more frequent. These trends raise new challenges but also present new opportunities for intergenerational communication. Around the globe, scholars are finding language barriers between different generations even within the family. The use of language, particularly regional dialects, tends to reflect one's social identity even more so than visual cues (Dragojevic & Giles, 2014). This may trigger stereotypes of different age groups and negatively influence intergenerational perceptions even before interaction has taken place. Drawing from social identity theory (Henri Tajfel, 1974), the salient categorization model of intergroup contact (Brown & Hewstone, 2005; Hewstone & Brown, 1986a) and current literature on intergenerational communication, I examine how digital games can be used to lower language barriers and promote intergenerational bonding through the introduction of common goals during gameplay. Specifically, a longitudinal field experiment was conducted with 50 pairs of young and elderly participants over 3 weeks to investigate the effects of language (common language vs. no common language) and goal attainment (success vs. failure) on various dependent variables, including intergroup anxiety, perceptions of game partners, general attitudes towards the outgroup as well as game enjoyment. The results show that digital gameplay generally reduced intergroup anxiety over time for both groups. Interacting with someone who could speak a common language helped to increase confidence about future interactions with other outgroup members. Even among those who did not speak a common language, positive outcomes were observed such that youths reported improved attitudes towards the general elderly outgroup. Furthermore, findings revealed that introduction of a common goal enhanced game enjoyment among those who did not speak a common language. Potential implications for research and practice are also discussed.
DRNTU::Social sciences::Communication::Communication theories and models
Nanyang Technological University