Christian Unkelbach, has authored a fascinating study which suggests the “turban effect” as a source of Islamophobia. The study will be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. The following excerpts about this study are taken from a recent article in The Vancouver Sun.
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A Muslim-style turban is perceived as a threat, according to a new study, even by people who don’t realize they hold the prejudice, dubbed “the turban effect” by researchers.
Research volunteers played a computer game that showed apartment balconies on which different figures appeared, some wearing Muslim-style turbans or hijabs and others bare-headed. They were told to shoot at the targets carrying guns and spare those who were unarmed, with points awarded accordingly.
People were much more likely to shoot Muslim-looking characters – men or women – even if they were carrying an innocent item instead of a weapon, the researchers found.
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When the true intention of the experiment was revealed, Unkelbach says participants insisted they were not prejudiced and must have reacted differently from everyone else.
“The most common response was, ‘I’m sure I didn’t show that effect,'” he says. “They’re uncomfortable and I believe them – people are not doing this willingly. If they could, they would control that. Here, people are almost the victims of what they are fed by their environment.”
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