Date of Degree
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Alison J. Bianchi
Even before 9/11, there has been a long history of attitudes and public policies that were biased against people of Middle East descent in the United States--regardless of whether or not they are Muslim. This research uses Status Characteristics Theory (SCT) and stigma theory to examine whether there is low status or stigma associated with the Muslim religion and Middle Eastern ethnicity in the United States. By doing so, the research expands upon previous studies of stigma to explore the social psychological processes involved during interactions between the stigmatized and non-stigmatized. This study used experimental data, survey data and qualitative data collected from samples of undergraduate students using designs conceptualized specifically for this research. I conducted an experiment and a Web vignette-survey using undergraduate students from a Midwestern university. The findings of the experiment showed that that European American subjects paired with the Middle Eastern female partner not wearing a hijab and the Muslim Middle Eastern female partner wearing a hijab were influenced more and held more positive perceptions of their partners than did the subjects paired with the European American female partner. In contrast, the results of the Web vignette-survey indicate that the European American target applicant is more likely to be selected for the leadership position than either of the Middle Eastern target applicants (with or without hijab). Furthermore, the results of the social distance measures indicate that knowing someone from the Middle East (e.g. previous contact with a Middle Easterner) decreased the likelihood of social distance from the Middle Eastern target with hijab and without hijab across the vignette conditions. This suggests that there might be less of a tendency for individuals who have had personal contact and interacted with people from the Middle East to take the "us versus them" perspective, which is necessary in order to carry out the process of stigmatization.
Middle Easterners, Muslims, status, status characteristics theory, stigma
xiv, 397 pages
Includes bibliographical references (pages 381-397).
Copyright 2011 Layana C. Navarre-Jackson