Living under threat: Mutual threat perception drives anti‐Muslim and anti‐Western hostility in the age of terrorism

Milan Obaidi, Jonas R. Kunst, Nour Kteily, Lotte Thomsen, James Sidanius

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Abstract

This research demonstrates a common psychology of outgroup hostility driven by perceived intergroup threat among three groups and seven cultural contexts: non-Muslim Westerners, Muslims in Western societies, and Muslims in the Middle East. In Study 1, symbolic, but not realistic and terroristic threats, predicted non-Muslim Norwegians' intentions to join anti-Islamic movements. In Study 2, symbolic and realistic, but not terroristic threat, predicted non-Muslim Americans' willingness to persecute Muslims. In Studies 3 and 4, symbolic threat predicted support and behavioral intentions against the West among Swedish and Turkish Muslims. Finally, in Study 5, a comparison demonstrated that symbolic and realistic threats had the same effects on violent intentions among non-Muslim and Muslim Danes, and Muslims in Afghanistan. Meta-analysis showed that symbolic threat was most strongly associated with intergroup hostility. Across studies, participants with high religious group identification experienced higher levels of threat. Implications for intergroup research and prejudice reduction are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Volume48
Issue5
Pages (from-to)567-584
Number of pages18
ISSN0046-2772
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Keywords

  • Islamophobia
  • conflict
  • intergroup relations
  • intergroup threat
  • right-wing extremism
  • terrorism
  • violence

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