Anti-Muslim, Anti-Mexican attitude can bring out dangerous consequences, suggests study

| Updated: Feb 08, 2017 19:29 IST

Washington D.C. [USA], Feb. 8 (ANI): The US President's recent Executive Order attempts to close U.S. borders for the citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, hoping that the decision would make American citizens feel safer against the threats of terrorism. But a new study suggests that this action might just do the exact opposite. A new research from the University of Pennsylvania and Northwestern named 'Backlash: The Politics and Real-World Consequences of Minority Group Dehumanization' looked at America's dehumanization of Muslims and Mexican immigrants in previous year's U.S. Republican Primaries and the consequence of feeling dehumanized had on these minority groups. The study was published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. In the study, the authors presented American participants with the popular 'Ascents of Man' diagram and had each participant place groups of people where they thought they belonged on the scale, from ape-like human (0) through modern human (100). They found out that the American participants placed Muslims and Mexican immigrants lower than Americans as a whole. The authors also find that the people who held dehumanizing views for Muslims or Mexican immigrants were also more likely to cast them in threatening terms with no sympathy and supports tactics for them. Crucially, the researchers found that these dehumanizing perceptions had consequences. When they asked Latinos and Muslims to report how dehumanized they felt by Donald Trump, Republicans, and Americans in general, they found that perceived dehumanization was high, and the greater this perception, the more inclined individuals were to support violent versus non-violent collective action. Muslims who felt dehumanized also were less willing to assist law enforcement in counter-terrorism efforts. "Feeling not only disliked, but dehumanized by another group has a profound effect on people. Our past work has shown that Americans who feel dehumanized by Iranians strongly oppose the Iran Nuclear deal and prefer instead to consider military options. It is no different for American Muslims," says Emile Bruneau, the study's co-author and Director of the Peace and Conflict Neuroscience Lab at the Annenberg School for Communication. According to Bruneau and his co-author, Nour Kteily, PhD, of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern, the decision of dehumanizing these minority groups can establish a vicious cycle. She says, "If we use rhetoric and enact policies that make Muslims feel dehumanized, this may lead them to support exactly the types of aggression that reinforce the perception that they are 'less civilized' than 'us.' In this way, dehumanization can become self-fulfilling in the minds of the dehumanizers and justify their aggression." The study also found that American-born Muslims were more likely to respond to feeling dehumanized with hostility than foreign-born Muslims. They write, "it may be that those who were born in the United States have a greater expectation than those born elsewhere and who may not be U.S. citizens that they will be treated by the rest of their society as fully human." According to the authors, dehumanizating views can lead to policies like the present immigration ban, but by making Muslims feel dehumanized, these policies increase the very danger against which they purport to safeguard. (ANI)
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