Changing Stereotypes in Iran and Canada Using Computer Mediated Communication

Mahin Tavakoli (1), Javad Hatami  (2), Warren Thorngate (3)
(1) St Francis Xavier University, Canada, Canada,
(2) Psychology Department University of Tehran, Jalal-Al-e-Ahmed, Iran, Islamic Republic of,
(3) Psychology Department Carleton University, Canada


As part of a university course activity, one group of Canadian and one group of Iranian students were randomly partnered to exchange e-mail messages via the Internet for seven weeks. Before beginning their correspondence, all students completed a questionnaire measuring their stereotypes, attitudes, and knowledge about the people and culture of their prospective e-pals. Students from both countries then exchanged messages and photos. In addition, students within each country met with one another to discuss their e-pal exchanges each week. At the end of seven weeks of e-mail exchange, all students again completed the original questionnaire. Pre-posttest changes in attitude, stereotypes, and knowledge about the culture of e-pals show that attitudes of participants towards people from the other country became more favourable, even though their judgments of the similarities between two cultures remained unchanged. Negative stereotypes changed towards more realistic ones. Attitude change was affected by the quality, topic, and frequency of e-mail exchange. Knowledge of participants about different aspects of the other culture became more complex and realistic over time. However, for many aspects of each culture, there was no consistent relationship between raising the level of knowledge and a change in attitude.

Full text article

Generated from XML file


Allport, G. (1967). On reducing prejudice. In E. P. Hollander & R. G. Hunt, Current perspectives in social psychology: Readings with commentary (pp. 595-602). New York: Oxford University Press.

Beazely, M.R. (1989). Reading for a real reason: Computer pals across the world. Journal of Reading, 23, 598-695.

Briggs, C. & Costelink, J. L. (1994). Pen pal letters between first grade children and teacher education students: theory into practice. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 15, 12-15. DOI:

Byrne, D. (1971). The attraction paradigm. New York: Academic Press.

Ceprano, M.A. & Garan, E.M. (1998). Emerging voices in a university pen-pal project: Layers of discovery in action research. Reading Research & Instruction, 38(1), 31-56. DOI:

Chenault, B.G. (1998). Developing personal and emotional relationships via computer-mediated communication. Retrieved may 29, 2009, from

Chesboro, J.W. & Donald, G.B. (1989). Computer-mediated communication: human relationships in a computerized world. Tuscaloosa & London: University of Alabama Press.

Eastmond, N. & Lester, O. (2001). Exploring important issues through key-pal connections: South Africa and the USA. TechTrends, 45 (6), 15-21. DOI:

Ess, C. (2001). Introduction: What’s culture got to do with it? Cultural collisions in the electronic global village, creative interfaces, and the rise of culturally-mediated computing. In C. Ess & F. Sudweeks (Eds.), Culture, technology, communication: towards an intercultural global village (pp. 1-49). Albany: State University of New York Press.

Finegan-Stoll, C. (1998). Keypals for young children. Social Studies and the Young Learner, 11 (1), 28-29.

Gareis, E. (1995). Intercultural friendship: A qualitative study. Lanham: University Press of America.

Hacker, K.L. & Steiner, R. (2001). Hurdles of access and benefits of usage for Internet communication. Communication Research Reports, 18, 399-407. DOI:

Harmston, K.A., Strong, C. J., & Evans, D. D. (2001). Writing to South Africa: International Pen-pal correspondence for students with Language-Learning disabilities. Teaching Exceptional Children, 33(3), 46-51. DOI:

Harris, T.H., & Sherblom, J.S. (2005). Small group and team communication (3rd ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Holt, R. (2004). Dialogue on the Internet: language, civic identity, and computer-mediated communication. Westport: Praeger.

Lewin, K. (1948). Resolving social conflicts: Selected papers on group dynamics. G. W. Lewin (Ed.). New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers.

Liu, P. (2003). Developing an e-pal partnership: A school based International activity. Childhood Education, 79(2), 881-88. DOI:

Newcomb, T. M. (1961). The Acquaintance process. New York: Winston. DOI:

Parks, M.R. (2007). Personal relationships and personal networks. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Parks, M.R. (2000). Communication networks and relationship life cycles. In K. Dindia & S. Duck (Eds.), Communication and personal relationships (pp. 55-75). New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Parks, M.R., & Floyd, K. (1996). Making friends in cyberspace. Journal of Communication, 46(1), 80-97. DOI:

Parks, M.R., & Adelman, M.B. (1983). Communication networks and the development of romantic relationships: An expansion of uncertainty reduction theory. Human Communication Research, 10, 55-79. DOI:

Rogers, R.A. (1999). "Is this a great time or what?" Information technology and the erasure of difference. World Communication, 28(4), 69-86.

Salmon, M. & Akaran, S.E. (2001). Enrich your kindergarten program with a cross-cultural connection. Young Children, 56(4), 30-32. DOI:

Schoorman, D. (2002). Increasing critical multicultural understanding via technology: Teachable moments in a university-school partnership project. Journal of Teacher Education, 53(4), 356- 369. DOI:

Scollon, R., & Scollon, S.W. (2001). Intercultural communication: A discourse approach (2nd ed.). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.

Shedletsky, L. & Aitken, J.E. (2004). Human communication on the Internet. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Sherif, M. (1967). Superordinate goals in the reduction of inter-group conflict. In E. P. Hollander & R. G. Hunt (Eds.). Current perspectives in social psychology: Readings with commentary (pp. 606- 614). New York: Oxford University Press (Original source Garden City: Doubleday Anchor, 1958).

Sherif, M. & Sherif, C. W. (1953). Groups in harmony and tension. New York: Harper & Row.

Shulman, M. (2001). Developing global connections through computer-mediated communication. The Internet TESL Journal, 7(6). Retrieved June 11, 2009, from

Shulman, S. & Seiffge-Krenke, I. (1994). Journal of Psychology, 28 (1).

Stanford, P., Siders, J.A. (2001). E-Pal Writing, TEACHING Exceptional Children, 34(2), 21-24. DOI:

Stephan, W. (1985). Inter-group relations. In G. L. & E. Aronson (Eds.), The handbook of social psychology (3rd Ed.), V (2), 599- 685. New York: Random House.

Thoth-Denis, D. F. & Pahinui, K. (1999). Cross-cultural pen-pal programs strengthen families and family services. Reaching Today’s Youth: The Community Circle of Caring Journal, 3 (2), 32-36.

Wheeler, D. (2003). The Internet and youth subculture in Kuwait. Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, 8 (2). Retrieved June 5, 2009, from DOI:

Wheeler, D. (2001). New techneologies, old culture: A look at women, gender, and the Internet in Kuwait. In C. Ess & F. Sudweeks (Eds.), Culture, technology, communication: towards an intercultural global village (pp. 187-212). Albany: State University of New York Press.


Mahin Tavakoli
Javad Hatami 
Warren Thorngate
Author Biographies

Mahin Tavakoli, St Francis Xavier University, Canada

Mahin Tavakoli has been a lecturer at Carleton University and an assistant professor of psychology at St. Francis Xavier University, Canada. She is a Certified Canadian Counsellor (CCC) and has served as a psychological consultant for educational television programs in Iran. She is the author and translator of five Persian books, and has published over 50 journal articles.

Javad Hatami , Psychology Department University of Tehran, Jalal-Al-e-Ahmed

Javad Hatami has been an assistant professor of psychology in the Psychology Department of Tehran University and a faculty member of Institute for Cognitive Science Studies. He also works as a TV producer and makes TV documentaries in the social psychology field.

Warren Thorngate, Psychology Department Carleton University

Warren Thorngatehas been a professor in the Psychology Department of Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada since 1979. He is the co-founder of the Centre for Social Psychology Research in Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, and has undertaken research and teaching in Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Iran. He is an author of 2009 book, Judging Merit.

Tavakoli, M., Hatami , J., & Thorngate, W. (2010). Changing Stereotypes in Iran and Canada Using Computer Mediated Communication. Journal of Intercultural Communication, 10(2), 1–17.

Article Details

Smart Citations via scite_