Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Wendy J. Harrod
While certain minority groups have gained acceptance in contemporary American society, others continue to experience high levels of bias. Currently, Muslims are one of the most “othered” social groups in American society. In this research, I examine social bias toward Muslims, with a specific focus on Muslim women who veil. Using a 2 (skin tone) X 3 (veil coverage) between-subjects experimental design, participants were shown a female face, and asked to answer a number of survey items designed to measure social bias. Measures of social bias included: attraction, similarity, social distance, moral outrage and stereotypes. There were six experimental conditions in which respondents were assigned to view one of six images of a female face, which varied in terms of skin tone and type of head covering.
I find that veil coverage is an important predictor of social bias. In most cases, when controlling for all other variables, as veil coverage increased, so did social bias. There were also statistically significant differences in social bias based on skin tone. Participants reported significantly less similarity and understanding toward dark skinned targets than light skinned targets. Participants also suggested that dark skinned targets had significantly less social status then light skinned targets. When the main effects of skin tone and veil coverage interacted, social bias based on veil coverage was more pronounced for light skinned targets. Overall, social bias was better predicted by veil coverage than skin tone, which indicated that religion, as derived from veil coverage, is more important in predicting social bias than race, as derived from skin tone. In addition, Islamophobia, or the fear of Muslims, helped to predict social bias toward Muslim women who veil. As Islamophobia increased, social bias toward veiled targets also increased.
Amy Lynn Shin
Shin, Amy Lynn, "Muslim women and the veil: an experimental study of social bias" (2015). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 14707.