Analysis of Intergroup Relationship; Muslims in America

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Before the September 11, 2001 bombings, not much social psychological research had focused on Muslim-Americans. As a result of the attack, Muslims quickly became a salient group in American society. At the unfortunate expense of prejudice towards Muslims, 9/11 also led to an increase in research regarding Muslim-Americans (Amer and Bagasra, 2013). Therefore, in analyzing the intergroup relationship between Muslim-Americans and White-Americans we will use 9/11 as the origin of group conflict. Before discussing the driving theories behind the intergroup relationship, it is important to note a certain level of ambiguity in the definition of these groups. We are aware that some Muslim-Americans may in fact also be White (mainly due to religious conversion). Therefore as an operational group, when referring to White-Americans we mean to indicate non-Muslim White Americans.
A primary framework for analyzing the relationship between Muslim-Americans and White-Americans is Intergroup Threat Theory. This theory designates two types of threat, realistic and symbolic (Stephan, Ybarra, and Morrison, 2009). Realistic threats challenge the group’s ability to exist. For example realistic threats may involve job loss, deprivation of material resources, injury and death. Symbolic threats however challenge the group’s way of life. These include threats towards morals, values, beliefs, attitudes, and religious practice. It is important to note that both actual threats and perceived threats have real consequences and can cause individuals to rely more on stereotypes and prejudice when relating to other groups.
Realistic threats play an important role in analyzing the intergroup relationship between Muslim-Americans and White-Americans. By large th...

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