Countering Misperceptions to Reduce Prejudice: An Experiment on Attitudes toward Muslim Americans

Conditionally Accepted at the Journal of Experimental Political Science

Muslim Americans constitute one of the United States' most vulnerable minority groups, facing frequent discrimination from both the public and the government. Despite this vulnerability, few studies evaluate interventions for reducing prejudice against Muslim Americans. Building from an insightful literature on the sources of prejudice against Muslim Americans, this paper tests whether attitudes can be improved with information countering misperceptions of the community as particularly foreign, threatening, and disloyal to the United States. The experimental treatment modestly improved attitudes, including among some subgroups predisposed to prejudice against Muslim Americans. However, the treatment struggled to change policy views, and it demonstrated some vulnerability to social desirability bias and priming on terrorism threats. The findings suggest that information campaigns addressing misperceptions can be of some use for reducing prejudice, but primarily in less politicized contexts.

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