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Have a Seat! Dinners Enhancing Neighbour Dialogue

Tampere University
Duration of project1.5.2019–31.7.2021
Area of focusSociety

This research project is part of Kone Foundation’s Neighbour dialogues thematic section and aims to scrutinize the role of communication in mediated intergroup interactions. The context is a dinner table in which strangers can meet in immersive virtual environments and via video calls. Through having a seat in a shared dinner table in virtual world one can experience mediated parasocial phenomena with strangers. We aim to study the effects of such mediated interactions with both qualitative and quantitative research methods.


This research project focuses on enhancing interaction and relationships in multicultural Finland. Project is embedded in Kone Foundation’s Neighbour dialogue -thematic section and incorporates science and art. Study is grounded in interpersonal communication studies. The artistic element of the study is comprised of immersive virtual story worlds.

Neighbourness does not automatically mean that people have interactional relationships with each other. Neighbour relations call for communication; communication creates relationships and relationships “live” in communication —through acts of communication. Thus, also deliberately avoiding a neighbour is a communication act as well. In a societal level, encountering strangers does not appear as one of the Finn’s strengths.

Storytelling is a mighty way of creating a sense of community and shared culture. In this study the context of storytelling is a shared dinner in an virtual environment.

In this project we want to demonstrate that when having a dinner with strangers, what becomes important are the elements of interpersonal communication instead of the cultural or ethnic backgrounds of the dinner participants.


The aim of the research project is to scrutinize the effects of communication in intergroup interactions. Previous research has shown that intergroup interaction effectively reduces prejudice and anxiety towards outgroup members. Furthermore, not only direct but also mediated interactions can effectively diminish negative outgroup attitudes. However, it remains unclear what it specifically is in mediated interaction that produces these effects. 



The study provides important information about the means by which support the development of neighbor relationships between people that are seemingly different. Through studying mediated interaction specifically, the results of this study help to design resource wise ways of enhancing intercultural relations on a societal level.

Funding source

This project is funded by the Kone Foundation



Lyfta Oy

Contact persons

Venla Kuuluvainen (researcher)

venla.kuuluvainen [at]


Ira Virtanen (researcher)

ira,virtanen [at]

Pekka Isotalus (project manager)

pekka.isotalus [at]