By Zainab Calcuttawala
By Zainab Calcuttawala
Rabat – A new study conducted in the United States shows that viewers’ exposure to reports that portray Islam negatively prompts them to support public policies that harm Muslims at both the domestic and international levels.
Led by a consortium of US universities, the study concluded that the American media plays a pivotal role in shaping Americans’ negative views of Muslims and Islam.
Earlier studies, such as one conducted by researcher Christopher Bail, have shown that press releases depicting fear and anger towards Muslims are more likely to be covered by the media, leading to skewed coverage.
Many of press releases by anti-Muslim groups are in response to statements by Muslims publicizing their experience of discrimination in public and private spaces, and they garner large coverage. In contrast, statements made by Muslim organizations condemning terrorism are given almost no coverage, since they are usually mournful and lack passion, according to Bail.
The new studies show that exposing an audience to coverage depicting Muslims as terrorists, as opposed to neutral or no coverage, is more likely to encourage support for domestic policies curbing civil rights for Muslims and foreign policy that supports military action in Muslim-majority countries.
The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Iowa State University, and Georgia State University, supported the argument that the effects of the media’s efforts to prime audiences to condemn Muslims as terrorists need not be permanent. New coverage depicting Muslims as positive figures in American and foreign communities could pave the way to quickly and significantly improving perceptions of the minority religious group.
“These results are consistent with previous studies that found exposure to brief counterstereotypic media portrayals of outgroups can reduce stereotypes and prejudice,” the researchers said in their report.
“Though the primed effects of the counterstereotypic news clip may be short term, repeated exposure to such media portrayals has the potential to lead to long-term changes in schemas involving outgroups… Furthermore, these message-based interventions can be combined with individual-based approaches such as media literacy programs in order to better combat the prevalence of media stereotypes of Muslims in American media.”