National study finds news exposure linked to greater anger towards Muslims

March 31, 2017

New Zealanders -- whether liberal or conservative -- show both increased anger and reduced warmth towards Muslims if they are more avid news consumers, a new scientific study has found.

The study, which appears in the leading international science journal PLOS ONE, is based on responses from 16,584 New Zealanders from the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study (NZAVS), a 20-year longitudinal study led by co-author Professor Chris G. Sibley of the University of Auckland, who leads the project he created in 2009.

Researchers have long suspected that the news media fuels Islamophobia, but these ideas had never been tested on a nation-wide scale.

"People tend to interpret the news in ways that fit with their pre-existing biases, seeking affirmation of their beliefs while discounting conflicting information," says University of Otago lecturer Dr John Shaver, the article's lead author. "New Zealand is a good test for speculation about media-induced Muslim prejudice because of its overall highly tolerant people. If anything, tolerant Kiwis might tend to reject intolerant stereotypes, reducing the effect of the media."

"However we find that the association of prejudice towards Muslims with more media exposure holds across the political spectrum, and is specific to Muslims," says Dr Shaver. "This indicates that it is widespread representations of Muslims in the news that is contributing to lower Muslim acceptance, rather than any partisan media bias. The media, regardless of politics, tend to publish violent stories because violence sells."

Professor Joseph Bulbulia of Victoria University of Wellington, also a co-author, notes, "Sadly, there may be real-world consequences for Muslims in this country, people who encounter prejudice across their daily routines, at the workplace, and in their children's schools." Despite the study's bleak message the authors remain optimistic: "Though un-making prejudice is difficult, we hope these results challenge the media to present fairer representations of Muslims."
-end-
The researchers who conducted the study were Dr Shaver of Otago's Religion programme, University of Auckland's Professor Sibley and Danny Osborne, and Professor Bulbulia, whose Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden grant supported this research.

University of Otago

Related Prejudice Articles from Brightsurf:

Study reveals why some blame Asian Americans for COVID-19
A blend of racial prejudice, poor coping and partisan media viewing were found in Americans who stigmatized people of Asian descent during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new study.

Friendly interactions with Chinese people reduced COVID-19 prejudice
A new study finds that friendly interactions with Chinese people reduced Covid-19 prejudice as the virus hit the UK back in February.

When it comes to supporting candidates, ideology trumps race and gender
Voters who express prejudice against minorities and women are still more likely to support candidates who most closely align with their ideologies, regardless of the race or sex of such candidates, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

Confrontation may reduce white prejudices, Rutgers study finds
Confronting a white person who makes a racist or sexist statement can make them reflect on their words and avoid making biased statements about race or gender in the future, Rutgers researchers find.

COVID-19: Relationship between social media use and prejudice against Chinese Americans
The novel coronavirus pandemic that originated in China has created a backlash in the United States against Asian Americans.

Research finds support for 'Trump effect'
In the years since the 2016 presidential election, many have speculated Donald Trump's racially inflammatory speech empowered people with latent prejudices to finally act on them -- a phenomenon known as the 'Trump effect.' Now, a new study from a team of political scientists at the University of California, Riverside, has found empirical support that suggests Trump's inflammatory remarks on the campaign trail emboldened particular members of the American public to express deeply held prejudices.

Different approaches to 'zero-sum' thinking, contribute to political divide
Voters tend to believe that one political party's gain can only be obtained at another party's expense, according to a new study.

The unpopular truth about biases toward people with disabilities
Needing to ride in a wheelchair can put the brakes on myriad opportunities -- some less obvious than one might think.

Whites' racial prejudice can lessen over time, research shows
Prejudice among white people can lessen over time, according to new research from Rice University.

Information and language in news impact prejudice against minorities
Researchers at the Institute of Psychology show how news about immigrants and language describing immigrants shape prejudice against immigrants and other social minorities, as part of the project 'Immigrants in the Media.' For instance, nouns used for describing the ethnicity of immigrants enhance prejudice against immigrants more than adjectives.

Read More: Prejudice News and Prejudice Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.