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Investigating prejudice toward men perceived to be Muslim: Cues of foreignness versus phenotype


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Possible factors in prejudice toward Muslims and those perceived to be Muslims were investigated. We specifically investigated cues of foreignness that may communicate threat. Using a 2 (Complexion: dark vs. light) ¥ 2 (Dress: Middle Eastern vs. Western) ¥ 2 (Name: Allen vs. Mohammed) between-subjects design, we expected cues of foreignness (dress and name) to have a greater impact on perceptions of targets than phenotype (complexion). Participants reviewed portraits of young men varying in the manipulated characteristics and gave their impressions. Generally, complexion did not affect perceptions, but portraits in Middle Eastern dress were rated less positively. There was a name by dress interaction in which Allen in Western dress was rated least negatively. Implications for future research are discussed.
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Investigating prejudice toward men perceived to be Muslim:
cues of foreignness versus phenotype
Lisa M. Brown1, Germine H. Awad2, Elizabeth J. Preas1, Valerie Allen1, Jerry Kenney1,
Stephanie Roberts1, L. Brooke Lusk1
1Austin College
2Department of Educational Psychology, University of Texas at Austin
Correspondence concerning this article should
be addressed to Lisa M. Brown, Austin
College, 900 N. Grand Avenue, Suite 61654,
Sherman, TX 75090-4400. E-mail: or to Germine H.
Awad, Department of Educational Psychology,
University of Texas at Austin, 1 University
Station D5800, Austin, TX 78712.
The authors thank Sultan Saeed Bilal, Jill Schurr,
and Renee Countryman for reviewing earlier
drafts of this article. They also thank two
anonymous reviewers for their helpful and
insightful comments.
doi: 10.1111/jasp.12015
Possible factors in prejudice toward Muslims and those perceived to be Muslims
were investigated.We specifically investigated cues of foreignness that may commu-
nicate threat. Usinga2(Complexion: dark vs. light) ¥2 (Dress: Middle Eastern vs.
Western) ¥2 (Name: Allen vs. Mohammed) between-subjects design, we expected
cues of foreignness (dress and name) to have a greater impact on perceptions of
targets than phenotype (complexion). Participants reviewed portraits of young men
varying in the manipulated characteristics and gave their impressions. Generally,
complexion did not affect perceptions, but portraits in Middle Eastern dress were
rated less positively. There was a name by dress interaction in which Allen in Western
dress was rated least negatively. Implications for future research are discussed.
What a difference a day makes. On September 11, 2001
(9/11), Al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four planes with plans to
fly them into major U.S. landmarks and destroy those build-
ings and the people in them in the name of a heretical1form of
Islam. The“Twin Towers”of the World Trade Center in lower
Manhattan collapsed, the Pentagon suffered damage, thou-
sands of innocent people died, and thousands more received
physical and emotional injuries. Anti-Muslim prejudice
existed before 9/11, but subsequent to this collective assault
came a backlash against people perceived to be Muslim. This
paper investigates negative views in the United States of
people perceived to be Muslim. We focus on cues of foreign-
ness and suggest that cues of foreignness (specifically, dress
and name) will be stronger predictors of this prejudice than
will phenotype (specifically, complexion).
The social psychological literature is replete with studies
on prejudice toward ethnic and religious groups. Much of the
literature in the United States has focused on BlackAmerican
targets (e.g., Brigham, 1971; Devine, 1989; Dovidio &
Gaertner, 1981; Jones, 1997; Smith, Dijksterhuis, & Chaiken,
2008). However, research within the United States and from
other Western countries has also focused on immigrants (e.g .,
Leach, Peng, & Volckens, 2000; Stephan, Ybarra, & Bachman,
1999; Stephan, Ybarra, Martínez, Schwarzwald, & Tur-Kaspa,
1998; Zárate, Garcia, Garza, & Hitlan, 2004). For example,
German natives’ beliefs that immigrants want to maintain
their culture, rather than assimilate are related to feeling
threatened by out-groups and prejudice (Rohmann, Florack,
& Piontkowski, 2006). In addition,Turkish immigrants (who
are predominantly Muslim) were viewed as more different
from Germans (and thus more threatening) than were Italian
immigrants (who are predominantly Christian; Rohmann
et al., 2006). Among Dutch youth, prejudice toward Muslims
is predicted by perceived threats to national values and nega-
tive stereotypes of Muslims (González, Verkuyten, Weesie, &
1While some may judge the use of the term heretical to be value-laden, we
believe it is more accurate than the term extreme.The termextreme suggests
that terrorist acts in which innocent civilians are targeted are merely quantita-
tively different from typical behavior espoused by Islam. However, such acts
of terrorism are contrary to the tenets of Islam (Ibrahim, 1997)—that is,
qualitatively different—and thus are heretical in the same way that Timothy
McVeigh’s terrorist acts were influenced by a heretical form of Christianity
(i.e., the Christian Identity Movement), rather than an extreme form of
Journal of Applied Social Psychology 2013, 43, pp. E237–E245
© 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Journal of Applied Social Psychology 2013, 43, pp. E237–E245
Poppe, 2009). Similarly, among U.S. college students, preju-
dice toward Muslims is related to perceived threats to national
values (Hitlan, Carrillo, Zárate, & Aikman, 2007). Within the
United States, research has found that within a Christian
sample, perceptions of Muslims as desecrators of Christianity
were associated with prejudice toward Muslims and perceived
conflict with Muslims (Abu Raiya, Pargament, Mahoney, &
Trevino, 2008). In addition, military conflict (e.g., the Gulf
War of the early 1990s) breeds greater prejudice toward
people perceived to be members of the enemy’s ethnic groups
(in this case, Arab Americans; Johnson, 1992). Indeed, strong
identity as “American” and perceived threat may interact to
predict prejudice toward and stereotypes of Arabs (Oswald,
In addition to these perceptions of threat, there are nega-
tive stereotypes of Muslims. For example, German respond-
ents were more likely to believe that Muslims relative to
Christians were more aggressive and more likely to advocate
terrorism (Study 1 of Fischer, Greitemeyer, & Kastenmüller,
2007), even though the groups did not differ in aggressive
tendencies, and Christians were actually marginally higher
(p=.09) in their support of terrorism (Study 2 of Fischer
et al., 2007). A survey conducted by the Media and Society
Research Group found that 47% of U.S.respondents believed
that Islam was more likely than other religions to promote
violence (Nisbet & Shanahan, 2004a). This belief was particu-
larly pronounced among people who were religious.A similar
poll found among U.S. respondents that 49% believed that
Muslims in Islamic countries were violent,47% believed they
were dangerous, 45% believed they were fanatical, and 35%
believed they were hateful (Nisbet & Shanahan, 2004b).
The irony is that while Westerners often stereotype
Muslims as violent, Westerners may be less intolerant of ter-
rorism than are Muslims. Polls from 2006 found that 46% of
U.S. respondents believed that attacks directed at civilians
were never justified (Ballen, 2007). In contrast, more than
60% of respondents in Indonesia, Pakistan, and Bangladesh
(Ballen, 2007) and Turkey (World Public Opinion, 2006)
believed that such actions were never justified. Levels in
Jordan and Egypt were comparable to those in the United
States Of the groups surveyed, only Muslims in Nigeria had
lower rejection of terrorist attacks against civilians than did
people in the United States (World Public Opinion, 2006).
In fact, Ibrahim (1997) wrote,“If an individual Muslim were
to commit an act of terrorism, this person would be guilty
of violating the laws of Islam” (p. 61).
Many social psychology researchers argue that people
identify the ethnicity of a stranger by his or her physical
appearance (e.g., Levin, 1996; Maddox, 2004; Stangor, Lynch,
Duan, & Glass, 1992). Phenotypic facial characteristics may
be particularly important for making ethnic categorizations
(Maddox, 2004).According to Maddox, skin tone is the most
salient phenotypical feature that enables individuals to dis-
tinguish group members. Existing research has found that
African Americans with light skin report experiencing less
discrimination than do African Americans with dark skin
(Klonoff & Landrine, 2000). Furthermore, people often asso-
ciate light skin with positive personality characteristics and
dark skin with negative personality characteristics (Maddox,
2004). In fact, some have argued that the use of race to catego-
rize and stereotype others is a fundamental and primordial
human tendency (e.g., Hewstone, Hantzi, & Johnston, 1991;
Stangor et al., 1992; Taylor, Fiske, Etcoff, & Ruderman, 1978;
cf. Kurzban, Tooby, & Cosmides, 2001).
Despite this view of the predominance of phenotype in
perceptions of people, some have suggested that name and
clothing are also features that people use to identify a target’s
ethnicity (Dinur, Beit-Hallahmi, & Hofman, 1996; Maddox,
2004). From people’s names, we can usually determine a
target’s gender and ethnicity, and sometimes his or her age
as well (Carpusor & Loges, 2006). Moreover, names are
frequently the first information available to people about
someone else (Carpusor & Loges, 2006). Research has
revealed that U.S. college students of various ethnicities had
implicit associations with Arab-Muslim names that were less
positive than with White names or Black names (Park,
Felix, & Lee, 2007). In addition, these differences were more
pronounced among people who listed “terrorism” as being
information they had heard about Arab-Muslims. In a field
study,U.S. landlords were more likely to discourage prospec-
tive tenants with Muslim,male names than those with White,
male names (although not as much as tenants with Black,
male names; Carpusor & Loges, 2006).
Several studies also support the idea that different styles of
clothing can affect perceptions of self and others (Banerjee,
2004; Brodeur, de Man, & Stout, 2006; Hannover & Kühnen,
2002; Judd, Bull, & Gahagan, 1975; Sani & Thompson, 2001;
Stangor et al., 1992; Unkelbach, Forgas, & Denson, 2008).
Head coverings, like the turban for men or the hijab for
women, are particularly politically charged items of clothing
in many Western countries (Greenwood & Christian, 2008;
Ruby, 2006; Saroglou, Lamkaddem, Van Pachterbeke, &
Buxant, 2009; Unkelbach et al., 2008). Research found that
Australian students were more likely to display the shooter
bias at non-White male targets wearing a turban, relative to
other targets (Unkelbach et al., 2008). In addition,some have
argued that Western claims of protecting Muslim women by
banning wearing a hijab is merely a paternalistic justification
for anti-Islamic prejudice (Fernandez, 2009; Ho, 2007).
The review of relevant research suggests that Western per-
ceptions of Muslims—particularly of Muslim men—often
are characterized by foreignness and evoke fear. This per-
ception of foreignness may result from perceived cultural
and religious differences between the prototypical West-
erner and the prototypical Muslim. In addition, for many
Westerners, these perceptions of foreignness may consist of
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© 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Journal of Applied Social Psychology 2013, 43, pp. E237–E245
stereotypes of the prototypical Muslim that consist of
images of religious zealots who are prone to terrorism in the
name of their religion.
While cues of ethnic group membership are often associ-
ated with phenotypical features, we suggest that these features
may not be sufficient to disambiguate group membership
when thinking about Muslims. However, cues that more
directly or specifically communicate Muslim group member-
ship (e.g., name, dress) will have effects on the perceptions of
targets. Note that we are not suggesting that phenotype may
not communicate general information about group member-
ship (for a review, see Maddox, 2004). We are saying that
given that there are prototypes of several groups that may
share the same phenotype of dark eyes, dark hair, and brown
skin (e.g., Middle Eastern Muslims, Latinos, Black Ameri-
cans), other cues may be necessary to distinguish Muslims;
the cues that often distinguish them express foreignness to
many Westerners. As reviewed, foreignness is often perceived
negatively. Thus, we predict that while more darkly com-
plected targets may be viewed relatively negatively, a target
with a Muslim name and Middle Eastern dress will be per-
ceived particularly negatively, relative to all other targets. In
addition, we believe that perceptions of foreignness of the
target will be associated with negative perceptions of the
target and will be highest for targets with a Muslim name and
Middle Eastern dress.
Study participants were 224 students (131 females, 93 males)
at a large, public, midwestern university. Participants’ ages
ranged from 18 to 27 years (M=18.5 years). In terms of eth-
nicity, 189 reported being European American, 11 were
African American, 8 were Latino/a, 6 were Asian American, 2
were Native American Indian, 6 were multiracial or “other,
and 2 did not report their ethnicity. In addition, 19 were
working class, 98 middle class, 92 upper middle class, 10
upper class, 3“other”, and 2 did not report their SES. In terms
of religious affiliation, 174 reported being Christian, 3
Muslim, 5 Jewish, 1 Buddhist, 16 Hindu, 11 nonreligious, 7
agnostic, 5 atheist, and 2 “other.
The questionnaire consisted of 33 items about a portrait. The
first 10 items asked about the aesthetic qualities of the por-
trait (e.g., “How proportionate are the individual features of
the portrait to each other?” and“Does the portrait seem life-
like?”). Responses were rated on a 9-point scale ranging from
1(notatall)to9(very much). One summary item asked the
respondents to rate the overall quality of the portrait on a
9-point scale ranging from 1 (very low)to9(very high). The
subsequent 23 items had to do with the impression the
portrait conveyed. The questionnaire asked participants to
respond to various traits (e.g., friendly,threatening,hardwork-
ing,foreign) on a 9-point scale ranging from 1 (notatall)to9
(very much). The questionnaire concluded with some basic
demographic questions.
A 2 (Name of Target: Allen vs. Mohammed) ¥2 (Complexion:
dark [i.e., black hair, brown eyes,and brown skin] vs. light [i.e.,
blonde hair, blue eyes, and light skin]) ¥2 (Style of Dress:
MiddleEastern [i.e., a shemaghand agal] vs.Western[i.e., polo
shirt]) between-subjects design was implemented. Partici-
pants were randomly assigned to one of the eight conditions
and completed the procedure on a computer. They were pre-
sented portraits under the guise of evaluating the aesthetic
qualities of portraits drawn by art students. The portraits were
drawnin colored pencil bythe fourth author,who was a double
major in psychology and art. The portraits were identical
except for the manipulated characteristics (see Figure 1).2
After being shown the picture, participants were asked ques-
tions regarding the portrait aesthetics and target impressions.
Preliminary analyses
The Aesthetic subscale consisted of 10 items: proportionate
features, shading, three-dimensional, color matching, lifelike,
believable eyes, believable nose, believable mouth, believable
cheekbones, and overall quality of the portrait (Cronbach’s
a=.92). The Warmth subscale consisted of six items:
friendly, trustworthy, open-minded, humorous, outgoing,
2In a pilot study, there were not enough participants (n=80) to conduct a
factor analysis on the 33 items from the questionnaire. However, a priori, we
created the warmth subscale (Cronbach’s a=.80), the prejudice subscale
(a=.87), and the competence subscale (a=.77). The competence subscale
consisted of competency-related items that, based on the stereotype content
model (Fiske, Cuddy, Glick, & Xu, 2002), we thought would interact with the
different conditions; for example, it should correlate positively with the
warmth subscale when the target was in Western dress and named “Allen”
(essentially a halo effect), but correlate positively with the prejudice subscale
when the target was in Middle Eastern dress and named “Mohammed” (as
someone who is dislikable and competent is feared). We included the items
shy,familiar (reverse-coded),unfamiliar, and foreign in the prejudice subscale.
However, shy did not correlate sufficiently well with other items to include in
the prejudice subscale (ns). In addition, valence(r ather than content) seemed
to drive the perceptions of the other three traits in that familiar correlated
positively with the warmth subscale (r=.46, p<.01), but not with the preju-
dice subscale (r=-.15, ns); while unfamiliar and foreign correlated positively
with the prejudice subscale (r=.32, p<.01; r=.30, p<.05, respectively), but
not the warmth subscale (rs=-.06 and -.10, respectively, both ns). Hence,
they were analyzed individually.
Brown et al. E239
© 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Journal of Applied Social Psychology 2013, 43, pp. E237–E245
and easygoing (a=.86). The Competence subscale con-
sisted of five items: intelligent, fearless, hardworking, self-
disciplined, and serious (a=.73). Finally, the Prejudice
subscale consisted of eight items: hostile, menacing, lazy,
spineless, unintelligent, narrow-minded, threatening, and
undisciplined (a=.85).
Using a 2 ¥2¥2 between-subjects ANOVA, there was a
significant main effect of dress on the Aesthetic subscale, F(1,
206) =3.87, p=.05, h2=.02. The artistic quality of the figure
in Western dress (M=57.51, SD =12.63) was rated higher
than in Middle Eastern dress (M=53.93, SD =14.94). There
was also a marginal Name ¥Dress interaction effect, F(1,
206) =3.61, p=.06, h2=.02 (see Table 1 for the means).
Tukey’s post hoc comparisons (wholly significant difference
[WSD]) reveal that Allen in Western dress received higher
ratings than did Allen in Middle Eastern dress. There was also
a significant Dress ¥Complexion interaction effect, F(1,
206) =18.45, p<.001, h2=.08. The mean aesthetic rating
was 49.77 (SD =15.76) when the target had a light complex-
ion and wore Middle Eastern dress; it was 61.16 (SD =12.85)
when the target had a light complexion and wore Western
dress; it was 58.09 (SD =12.93) when with the target had a
dark complexion and wore Middle Eastern dress; and it was
53.86 (SD =11.34) when the target had a dark complexion
and wore Western dress. These effects were surprising, given
that a pilot study found no significant main effects or interac-
tion effects on the Aesthetic subscale (a=.91; Fs<2, ns).
Primary analyses
Recall that we hypothesized that while complexion may be
viewed negatively and convey foreignness (as demonstrated
Figure 1 Pictorial stimuli with different complexions and different clothing.
E240 Prejudice toward Muslim men
© 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Journal of Applied Social Psychology 2013, 43, pp. E237–E245
by a complexion main effect), the portrait in Middle Eastern
dress named Mohammed would be viewed particularly nega-
tively and rated as particularly foreign (as demonstrated by a
Name ¥Dress interaction). In addition, foreignness would be
viewed negatively (as demonstrated by a positive correlation
between perceptions of foreignness and the Prejudice sub-
scale). To get a sense of the effects of the manipulations on
overarching attitudes toward the targets, a scale measuring
overall positive evaluations of the target was created by
reverse-scoring the negative traits (hostile, unintelligent,
menacing, shy,serious, unfamiliar,narrow-minded, threaten-
ing, lazy, undisciplined, foreign, and spineless) and then
summing all the traits (i.e., friendly, intelligent, trustworthy,
hostile, open-minded, easygoing, familiar, humorous, fear-
less, unintelligent, hardworking, self-disciplined, menacing,
shy, outgoing, serious, unfamiliar, narrow-minded, threaten-
ing, lazy, undisciplined, foreign, and spineless; a=.76). This
total of positive traits was submitted to a 2 ¥2¥2 ANOVA.
There was a significant main effect of dress, F(1,
186) =28.75, p<.001, h2=.13. The portrait in Western dress
(M=123.34, SD =15.92) was rated more positively than was
the portrait in Middle Eastern dress (M=110.51, SD =
17.41). Consistent with the hypotheses, there was also a sig-
nificant Name ¥Dress interaction effect, F(1, 186) =8.52,
p=.004, h2=.04 (see Table 1). Tukey’s post hoc comparisons
(WSD) reveal that Allen in Middle Eastern dress was rated less
positively than were Allen in Western dress and Mohammed
in Western dress. In addition, Allen in Western dress was rated
significantly more positively than was Mohammed in either
Western dress or Middle Eastern dress. No other main effects
or interaction effects from the ANOVA were significant.
The Warmth subscale was analyzed next. There was a main
effect of dress, F(1, 207) =20.83, p<.001, h2=.09. The por-
trait in Middle Eastern dress was rated lower on the Warmth
subscale (M=20.69, SD =7.78) than was the portrait in
Western dress (M=25.60, SD =7.96). In addition, consistent
with the hypotheses, there was an interaction between name
and dress, F(1, 207) =5.23, p=.023, h2=.02 (see Table 1).
Post hoc comparisons reveal that Allen in Middle Eastern
dress was rated lower on the Warmth subscale than Allen in
Western dress or Mohammed in Western dress. In addition,
Allen in Western dress was rated significantly higher on the
Warmth subscale than was Mohammed in Middle Eastern
dress. No other main effects or interaction effects from the
ANOVA were significant.
The individual rating of familiarity was submitted to
analyses. There was a significant main effect of dress, F(1,
216) =10.71, p=.001, h2=.05. The portrait in Western dress
was rated as more familiar (M=4.44, SD =1.85) than was the
portrait in Middle Eastern dress (M=3.64, SD =1.84). In
line with the hypotheses, there was also a marginally signifi-
cant interaction between name and dress, F(1, 216) =3.65,
p=.057, h2=.02 (see Table 1). Post hoc comparisons reveal
that Allen in Middle Eastern dress was rated as less familiar
than was Allen in Western dress. No other main effects or
interaction effects from the ANOVA were significant.
We were intrigued by the low ratings of Allen in Middle
Eastern dress and wondered whether participants evaluated
him as particularly untrustworthy. Consequently, we ana-
lyzed the trustworthiness item by itself. There was a signifi-
cant main effect of dress, F(1, 215) =19.53, p<.001, h2=.08.
The portrait in Western dress (M=5.18, SD =1.74) was rated
as more trustworthy than was the portrait in Middle Eastern
dress (M=4.14, SD =1.78). In line with the hypotheses, there
was also a significant interaction between name and dress,
F(1, 215) =5.70, p=.018, h2=.02 (see Table 1). Post hoc
comparisons reveal that Allen in Middle Eastern dress was
rated as less trustworthy than was Allen in Western dress or
Mohammed in Western dress. In addition, Allen in Western
dress was rated as significantly more trustworthy than was
Mohammed in Middle Eastern dress. No other main effects
or interaction effects from the ANOVA were significant.
Table 1 Means of Dependent Variables by Name and Dress
Dependent variable
Mohammed Allen
Middle Eastern dress Western dress Middle Eastern dress Western dress
Aesthetic subscale 54.61ab 15.87 54.65ab 12.48 53.33a14.01 60.67b12.15
Positive evaluations 112.44ab 18.70 118.21bc 12.73 108.70a16.00 128.45d17.02
Warmth subscale 21.86ab 8.07 24.27bc 7.25 19.61a7.36 26.92c8.47
Familiarity rating 3.85ab 1.97 4.18ab 1.63 3.43a1.67 4.70b2.03
Trustworthiness rating 4.34ab 1.89 4.82bc 1.71 3.95a1.66 5.55c1.71
Competence subscale 26.24 7.01 27.38 5.38 25.67 7.02 28.86 6.51
Prejudice subscale 29.64 10.51 30.22 11.00 30.48 11.13 25.90 10.01
Foreignness rating 5.98a2.45 4.78b2.40 6.14a2.31 2.77c2.31
Unfamiliarity rating 4.98 1.99 4.87 1.85 5.03 2.12 4.50 2.37
Note. Post hoc comparisons were conducted using Tukey’s wholly significant difference (WSD) test. Means in the same row that do not share a subscript
letter differ at least p<.05.
Brown et al. E241
© 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Journal of Applied Social Psychology 2013, 43, pp. E237–E245
The analysis on the Competence subscale produced a main
effect of dress, F(1, 207) =5.84, p=.017, h2=.03. The por-
trait in Western dress (M=28.12, SD =5.99) had higher
scores on the Competence subscale than did the portrait
in Middle Eastern dress (M=25.96, SD =6.99). No
other main effects or interaction effects from the ANOVA
were significant.
Next, we analyzed the Prejudice subscale. Only the inter-
action between name and dress approached significance,
F(1, 204) =3.12, p=.079, h2=.01 (see Table 1). This finding
was consistent with the hypotheses. No other main effects or
interaction effects from the ANOVA were significant. As
predicted, the Prejudice subscale was correlated with per-
ceptions of the portrait being foreign and unfamiliar (see
Table 2).
Finally, we analyzed the foreignness rating. It produced
a main effect of complexion, F(1, 216) =37.50, p<.001,
h2=.11. As has been found in previous research, the
portrait was rated as more foreign when dark in complexion
(M=5.81, SD =2.54) than when light in complexion
(M=4.02, SD =2.59). We hypothesized that dress and
name would be cues of foreignness. In support of this
hypothesis, there was also a dress main effect, F(1,
216) =62.67, p<.001, h2=.18. The portrait was rated as
more foreign when in Middle Eastern dress (M=6.08,
SD =2.37) than when in Western dress (M=3.76,
SD =2.55). Also in support of our hypotheses, there was a
main effect of name, F(1, 216) =9.55, p=.002, h2=.03. The
portrait was rated as more foreign when named Moham-
med (M=5.37, SD =2.49) than when named Allen
(M=4.47, SD =2.85). Finally, in support of the hypotheses,
there was also a Name ¥Dress interaction effect, F(1,
216) =13.89, p<.001, h2=.04 (see Table 1). Post hoc com-
parisons reveal that Mohammed in Western dress was rated
as less foreign than were both Mohammed in Middle
Eastern dress and Allen in Middle Eastern dress. However,
Allen in Western dress was rated as less foreign than were
the other three conditions. No other main effects or interac-
tion effects from the ANOVA were significant.
The results from this study generally confirm the hypothesis
that perceptions of Muslims are related to certain cues of for-
eignness (i.e., name and dress). Generally, these cues of for-
eignness interacted to affect perceptions of the portraits (as
demonstrated by the consistent Name ¥Dress interaction
effects). Among positively valenced dependent variables (e.g.,
total positive traits, familiarity), post hoc comparisons reveal
that Allen in Western dress was rated more positively than
was Allen in Middle Eastern dress. However, the means for
Mohammed in Western dress and Mohammed in Middle
Eastern dress did not differ and were intermediate to the
means for Allen.
A slightly different pattern was found among the negatively
valenced dependent variables (e.g., foreignness, prejudice
subscale). Post hoc analyses reveal that Allen in Western dress
tended to be perceived less negatively than the other three
conditions. These results suggest two things. First, partici-
pants seem to have had negative reactions to the “mismatch”
between dress and name for Allen in Middle Eastern dress.
Second, there seems to have been a ceiling effect regarding
positive evaluations of Mohammed, but no ceiling effect
regarding negative evaluations of Mohammed. Ratings of
Mohammed, regardless of dress, were never extremely posi-
tive but moderate.
This research provides preliminary evidence that percep-
tions of Muslims focus on certain cues of foreignness (i.e.,
name and dress), rather than phenotype (i.e., complexion).
There were generally no main effects of complexion on any of
the dependent variables; the one exception was perceptions of
foreignness in which the dark-complected portrait was rated
as more foreign than was the light-complected portrait. This
result is consistent with research finding that White Ameri-
cans are associated with being “American,” while people of
color are not (e.g., Devos & Banaji, 2005).However, we find it
compelling that in these data, complexion did not generally
influence people’s ratings. Future research must determine
whether this finding generalizes to the implicit level. But
Table 2 Intercorrelations Between Dependent Variables
Variable 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
1. Aesthetic
2. Warmth .25**
3. Familiar .20** .63**
4. Trustworthy .29** .75** .39**
5. Competence .34** .39** .27** .49**
6. Prejudice -.02 .10 .11 -.15* .09
7. Foreign -.10 -.22** -.15* -.26** .00 .21** —
8. Unfamiliar .02 .06 -.16* -.03 .20** .42** .23**
*p<.05. **p<.01.
E242 Prejudice toward Muslim men
© 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Journal of Applied Social Psychology 2013, 43, pp. E237–E245
at least on this explicit task, our hypothesis that dress
and name would have a greater effect on perceptions was
Generally across the dependent variables, the target in
Middle Eastern dress was evaluated less positively than was
the target in Western dress. In addition, the target in Middle
Eastern dress was rated as more foreign, and foreignness was
positively correlated with the prejudice subscale. Thus, con-
sistent with our hypothesis, the dress conveyed foreignness,
and this foreignness was perceived negatively. However,
future research must investigate the exact mechanism of our
finding and also why the Muslim name did not consistently
produce the same effect.
We believe that the recurring name by dress interaction
effect supports our hypotheses as well. For positively valenced
dependent variables (e.g., warmth, familiarity), Mohammed
in either Middle Eastern or Western dress was never rated as
positively as was Allen in Western dress: An “assimilated”
Mohammed was not particularly liked. This combination of
these two cues of foreignness created a ceiling for positive
However, we were surprised at the consistency of the lowest
positive ratings for Allen in Middle Eastern dress. Whether
this is a result of expectancy violation or suspicion of the
study is unclear.On the one hand, the black-sheep effect may
help explain this unexpected finding. The black-sheep effect
refers to the phenomenon that opinions about in-group
members result in more extreme evaluations than do judg-
ments about out-group members and that this occurs for
both positive and negative evaluations (Biernat, Vescio, &
Billings, 1999; Marques, Yzerbyt, & Leyens, 1988; Pinto,
Marques, Levine, & Abrams, 2010). Given that all of the par-
ticipants in the study were from the United States, they may
have perceived Allen in Middle Eastern dress to violate an
in-group (i.e., national) norm or value and, therefore, rated
him lower than the similarly dressed out-group member (i.e.,
Mohammed in Middle Eastern dress). In addition, the fact
that this condition was rated lowest in trustworthiness may
suggest that participants were particularly suspicious of the
character in this portrait. Perhaps a light-complected man in
Middle Eastern dress is perceived to be a traitor and, as a
result, is less likable. On the other hand, it could also be that
participants were not so much suspicious as they were
dubious. Perhaps they believed that such a portrait was so
unusual that it was unrealistic, and thus evoked suspicions of
the experimenter’s motives. We cannot make a clear conclu-
sion from these data, so future research is required.
We believe that the consistent pattern in the name by dress
interaction effects across the negatively valenced dependent
variables is also consistent with our hypotheses. Generally, in
the three conditions in which the portrait had some marker of
foreignness (i.e., the name Mohammed or Middle Eastern
dress), participants rated him significantly more negatively
than when the portrait was stereotypically “American” (i.e.,
the name Allen and Western dress). While we hypothesized
that Mohammed in Middle Eastern dress would be rated
most negatively, only the target that lacked clear cues of for-
eignness (i.e., Allen in Western dress) was spared negative
evaluations. Even though the task was explicit, participants
still demonstrated a bias against the combined cues of for-
eignness of name and dress. Given that the ratings on posi-
tively valenced dependent variables tended to be moderate
for Mohammed in either dress, future research could investi-
gate whether participants are truly ambivalent toward these
targets or whether the positive evaluations would decrease on
an implicit task.
In addition, throughout this paper, we focused on stere-
otypes of perceived Muslims that may evoke fear. However,
these stereotypes may only be relevant to perceived Muslim
men. Westerners often believe that Muslim women are
oppressed and helpless (for a discussion of this issue, see
Fernandez, 2009; Ho, 2007; Ibish, 2001; Ruby, 2006). Thus,
even when perceptions of foreignness do not evoke fear, they
may still be problematic. Research on perceptions of African
Americans and women suggests that stereotypes of incompe-
tence may lead to patronizing responses from out-group
members (Biernat & Manis, 1994; Biernat, Manis, & Nelson,
1991; Fiske, Cuddy, Glick, & Xu, 2002; Glick & Fiske, 1996;
Jackman, 1994; Scott, 1997). Viewing perceived Muslims as
“hapless foreigners” may also lead to patronizing responses.
In addition to variations in the stereotypes of perceived
Muslims, future research may investigate ways in which stere-
otypes of and subsequent reactions to this group differ from
those associated with other ethnic groups.
We hope that this research has added to the growing litera-
ture on prejudice toward perceived Muslims. Prejudice
toward and discrimination against perceived Muslims
increased in the United States directly subsequent to 9/11
(e.g., Human Rights Watch, 2002; Rubenstein, 2004). Indeed,
the events of 9/11 were horrible in multiple ways. Innocent
people were killed or injured.A sense of national security was
threatened. In addition, subsequent to that day, perceived
Muslims living in the United States (and elsewhere in “the
West”) moved from a liminal position to a precarious posi-
tion in their respective societies (e.g., Moradi & Hasan,
2004; Stubbs, 2003–2004). However, negative stereotypes of
Muslims existed prior to 9/11 (e.g., Ibish, 2001), and even
though discrimination decreased with the decreasing
salience of 9/11 (e.g., Bar-Tal & Labin, 2001; Persson &
Musher-Eizenman, 2005), it still persists (e.g., Ahmed, 2010;
Awad & Hall-Clark, 2009; Dávila & Mora, 2005; Ibish &
Stewart, 2003; Park, Malachi, Sternin, & Tevet, 2009). We
hope to illuminate some of the processes involved in this
prejudice and discrimination. Our eventual hope is that such
research will lead to insights that foster a new day in the inter-
actions between Muslims and non-Muslims.
Brown et al. E243
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... One study by Brown et al. (2013) suggested that mere perceptions of Muslim identity may influence attitudes toward people. Researchers looked at cues of foreignness (i.e. ...
... Researchers looked at cues of foreignness (i.e. complexion, dress, and name) and their impact on perceptions of one's religious beliefs (Brown et al., 2013). Surprisingly, complexion showed little influence despite other data suggesting that people associate a White complexion with American identity and other complexions with foreignness. ...
... Western dress was perceived more positively and Middle Eastern dress more negatively regardless of name (Brown et al., 2013). However, "Mohammed" was never rated particularly positively regardless of dress, whereas "Allen" in Western dress was perceived more positively than "Allen" in Middle Eastern Dress. ...
Full-text available
A socio-functional approach to prejudice posits that different out-groups are perceived to pose different types of threats to group success by in-group members. These different types of threats include physical safety/security threats, economic threats, moral threats, etc. Within this framework, each type of threat elicits a different emotional response from in-group members. In the current pair of studies, we investigated the extent to which Arab Americans and Muslim Americans (Study 1), as well as deaf individuals and those with disabilities (Study 2) are attitudinally conflated into the same social category by measuring the emotional responses they elicit from participants, and subsequently, the type of threat they are perceived to pose to society. Results from indicate potential conflation between groups (i.e., Muslims and Arab Americans; Deaf individuals and individuals with disabilities). One reason why Americans may conflate outgroups could be because they have no intergroup contact. Individual difference characteristics such as social dominance orientation (SDO), right-wing authoritarianism (RWA), and religious fundamentalism (RF) also appear to influence attitudes toward different types of threat groups. The influence of subtle attitudes and biases, such as ambivalent prejudice and positive stereotyping are considered. Overall, the goal of this research is to explore the different emotional reactions elicited by outgroups that are perceived to be representative of different types of threat. With this, we hope to gain a better understanding of the affective nature of prejudice and the individual differences that may help predict these specific attitudes.
... By choosing Muslims as the outgroup (as in other studies focusing on stereotypes against an outgroup, e. g., African Americans: Correll, Park, & Wittenbrink, 2002;Correll, Urland, & Ito, 2006;Senholzi, Depue, Correll, Banich, & Ito, 2015; but also Muslims: Brown et al., 2013;Mange, Chun, Sharvit, & Belanger, 2012;Unkelback et al. 2008), we do not aim to further reinforce negative stereotypes (explicit or otherwise) toward the Muslim community, but to bring them to light to better understand how they form and persist. We think this is fundamental in order to formulate solutions directed to overcoming such stereotypes. ...
... Previous research has, for example, revealed a shooting bias for targets wearing Muslim headgear (Unkelbach et al., 2008) or when primed with Muslim or Arab categories (Mange et al., 2012), which included personal names and other words such as veil and turban. A further study showed portraits of males in Middle Eastern dress (wearing shemagh and agal) were rated less positively than in Western attire (Brown et al., 2013). In addition, beards are an integral part of the way Muslims (as well as Arabs and people from the Middle East) are represented and perceived by non-Muslims, including as part of a discourse of fear, danger and terror (Culcasi & Gokmen, 2011). ...
... The behavioural results of the current study did not reveal a shooter bias overall (i.e., shooting outgroup members more often and/or shooting them more quickly) as could be expected based on prior research (Brown et al., 2013;Correll et al., 2002Correll et al., , 2006Mange et al., 2012;Unkelbach et al., 2008). An explanation for this discrepancy could be that, compared to these earlier studies, it was much more difficult to detect the gun or the object in our design. ...
The role of the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) in moral decision-making is well established. However, OFC activity is highly context dependent. It is affected by the extent to which choices are morally justified and whom they concern. In the current study, we specifically focus on contextual factors and investigate the differential role of the OFC during justified and unjustified violence towards ingroup versus outgroup members. Muslims were chosen as the outgroup, as they are currently stereotypically seen as an outgroup and a potential threat by some Non-Muslims. Importantly, we also introduce a context where participants are the actual agents responsible for doing harm. During fMRI scanning, Non-Muslim participants (N=48) had to decide to either shoot a Non-Muslim (i.e., ingroup member) or Muslim (outgroup member) depending on whether they believed the target was holding a gun or an object. Neuroimaging results showed increased activation in the lateral OFC (lOFC) in the three contrasts that were distressing: 1) during unjustifiable killing; 2) when being killed; and 3) when confronted by an outgroup member with a gun. Together, these results provide important insights into the neurocognitive mechanisms involved in intergroup violence and highlight the critical role of the lOFC in context dependent social decision-making.
... Arab American women may be more readily identified as Arab through more visible physical expressions of Arab or Muslim identity, such as hair coverings [16]. Conversely, it is possible that Arab American men suffer more discrimination due to their common portrayal as terrorists in popular media, using cues of "foreignness" that include dress, facial features, and name [19,59]. Assari and Lankarani [15] used data from the Detroit Arab American Study to test the association between psychological distress and discrimination, finding a stronger association in males than females in the sample. ...
There is growing evidence for the adverse health effects of structural and individual forms of discrimination in multiple religious, ethnic, and racial groups. Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Arab Americans have experienced increasingly more frequent and visible forms of discrimination. However, the impact of these experiences on their mental well-being requires further investigation. This study examines the association between perceived discrimination and several markers of mental health and well-being, using cross-sectional data from a convenience sample of 279 Arab American adults from southeast Michigan. After adjustment for a series of relevant confounders, perceived discrimination was significantly associated with depressive symptoms (estimate 0.93, 95% CI 0.53, 1.34, p < 0.01), anxiety symptoms (estimate 0.48, 95% CI 0.19, 0.77, p < 0.01), and poor self-rated health (OR 1.31, 95% CI 1.08, 1.58, p < 0.01). The study highlights the need to address and mitigate health disparities among individuals of Arab descent and improves awareness of the potential health effects of ongoing structural and interpersonal discrimination toward this population.
... y a form of prejudice studies. Representatives of this school, which I have discussed in this article, are John Esposito (Bridge Initiative at Georgetown University) and Wolfgang Benz (Center for Anti-Semitism Studies). Beyond this work, there is a large amount of literature that shares the basic assumptions of this approach (see also : Bunzl 2007;L. Brown et al. 2013;Lean 2012). The second school, which views Islamophobia through the lens of racialization, places Islamophobia primarily in an asymmetrical power relationship and makes theoretical links to critical race studies and postcolonial studies. This approach is perhaps the most widespread current approach within academic literature, finding esp ...
... Another microaggression often faced by MENA Americans is the unfounded and often antagonistic insistence that innocent MENA Americans must apologize for terrorist attacks that are perpetrated by others who have origins that fit into a wide range of countries that encompass the MENA region (Howell & Shryock, 2003). Regardless of how it is communicated, MENA Americans are consistently receiving messages that they do not truly belong (Brown et al., 2013;Cainkar, 2002). ...
Americans of Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) descent in the United States have been historically understudied, in part due to limitations of racial classification systems that typically include MENA under the broad umbrella of White. As a result, enormous gaps in knowledge about health and mental health disparities exist, with broad public health significance. In particular, there is an urgent need to attend more specifically to MENA Americans’ experiences of cumulative racial–ethnic trauma, which occurs at every level of their social ecologies. This article offers a conceptual model of cumulative racial–ethnic trauma to represent the unique experiences of the MENA American population. Traumatic factors at the macrolevel include historical trauma, pervasive institutional discrimination, and a hostile national context. These factors interact with one another and further impact microlevel traumatic experiences related to interpersonal discrimination and microaggressions, as well as struggles with identity and recognition. The deleterious impacts of these experiences may include a ubiquitous sense of insecurity, hopelessness, and alienation among MENA American individuals, in addition to more specific mental health and physical health concerns. It also compromises the overall well-being of the MENA American population in terms of belonging versus alienation, freedom versus restriction, and opportunities versus disadvantage. We discuss how the model can help to create a foundation for future inquiry and contribute to intervention efforts to find effective ways to support resilience and thriving for the MENA American population. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)
... For example, attire such as the hijab or keffiyeh demonstrates that the individual belongs to a different culture or religion. Indeed, anti-Muslim prejudice tends to be heightened when Muslim people wear more traditional attire (Brown et al., 2013;Saroglou, Lamkaddem, Van Pachterbeke, & Buxant, 2009). ...
Following 9/11 and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, anti‐Muslim antipathy dramatically escalated in the United States. We argue that a major contributor to this hostility is endorsement of Right‐Wing Authoritarianism (RWA) because people high in RWA tend to respond aggressively toward groups that they view as threatening particularly when they perceive that such aggression is supported by authority figures. We posit that Americans high in RWA view Muslims as threatening traditional American norms and perceive that the U.S. government is at war with Islam. Across three studies, we present consistent support for our hypothesis that RWA is associated with endorsing and engaging in hostile behavior toward Muslims. In addition, this hostility is mediated by the perception that Muslims threaten societal norms and that the government is actively at war with Islam (Study 3). The implications for the reduction of aggression toward Muslims and the impact of RWA on hostility toward other outgroups are discussed.
In the war on terror, the state frames terrorism as an exceptional form of violence. This research examines the role of race in that framing. Analysis of the 2017 Federal Bureau of Investigation most wanted program shows that the bureau deploys race to represent the terrorist as exceptional by (1) formally deracializing terrorists, who are far less likely than nonterrorists to even have race labels on their wanted posters, and (2) labeling antiracist, anticolonial, and anticapitalist politics as terrorism. I argue that such representations proceed in step with the material governance of terrorism that is characterized by disappearance. The representation of the terrorist as exceptional helps render the state’s antiterror apparatus as neutral and legitimate, and it continually renews the legitimacy of the colonial, capitalist state through the newer register of terrorism.
Full-text available
Armin Muftić 2014. Islamophobia Studies – Islamophobieforschung. Bibliography – Bibliographie, 26. 2. 2015. URL:
Stereotype research emphasizes systematic processes over seemingly arbitrary contents, but content also may prove systematic. On the basis of stereotypes' intergroup functions, the stereotype content model hypothesizes that (a) 2 primary dimensions are competence and warmth, (b) frequent mixed clusters combine high warmth with low competence (paternalistic) or high competence with low warmth (envious), and (c) distinct emotions (pity, envy, admiration, contempt) differentiate the 4 competence-warmth combinations. Stereotypically, (d) status predicts high competence, and competition predicts low warmth. Nine varied samples rated gender, ethnicity, race, class, age, and disability out-groups. Contrary to antipathy models, 2 dimensions mattered, and many stereotypes were mixed, either pitying (low competence, high warmth subordinates) or envying (high competence, low warmth competitors). Stereotypically, status predicted competence, and competition predicted low warmth.
One hundred and fifteen college and university students participated in a study of the relationship between perceived style of dress (casual, athletic, fashionable) and social distance. Results of an analysis of variance showed that, independent of their own preferred dress style, respondents reported the greatest social distance between themselves and others who dressed in an athletic style. Furthermore, it was found that men generally perceived greater social distance than did women.
Three studies tested basic assumptions derived from a theoretical model based on the dissociation of automatic and controlled processes involved in prejudice. Study 1 supported the model's assumption that high- and low-prejudice persons are equally knowledgeable of the cultural stereotype. The model suggests that the stereotype is automatically activated in the presence of a member (or some symbolic equivalent) of the stereotyped group and that low-prejudice responses require controlled inhibition of the automatically activated stereotype. Study 2, which examined the effects of automatic stereotype activation on the evaluation of ambiguous stereotype-relevant behaviors performed by a race-unspecified person, suggested that when subjects' ability to consciously monitor stereotype activation is precluded, both high- and low-prejudice subjects produce stereotype-congruent evaluations of ambiguous behaviors. Study 3 examined high- and low-prejudice subjects' responses in a consciously directed thought-listing task. Consistent with the model, only low-prejudice subjects inhibited the automatically activated stereotype-congruent thoughts and replaced them with thoughts reflecting equality and negations of the stereotype. The relation between stereotypes and prejudice and implications for prejudice reduction are discussed.