Prejudice towards Muslims in the Netherlands

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A main research paper is the article, Hostility against Muslims in the Netherlands: Examining Integrated Threat Theory, published in the British Journal of Social Psychology. The authors report on a recent study they conducted to investigate the biases towards Muslim minorities among Dutch adolescents. The authors study the existing literature and present, as well as the findings and conclusions, the methods used in their analysis. The authors perceived the existence of some form conflict in the inter-group activities of two groups, including Dutch adolescents and Muslim minorities in the Netherlands. This prompted them to design a study to investigate the major factors that influence how the Dutch adolescents perceive the Muslim minority residents. The integrated threat theory, which explores the perceived threats between social groups, was employed in the current study, in a bid to document and understand what factors influence the relationship.

The study was conducted through questionnaires distributed across six secondary schools in the Netherlands. According to the authors, all students were willing to participate. Questionnaires were filled in 25 minutes on average, and the participants’ ages ranged from 13 to 17 years. 1,203 ethnic Dutch adolescents participated in the study. 93 non-ethnic Dutch participants also filled the questionnaires. However, the responses of non ethnic participants were not integrated in the subsequent analyses.

The questionnaires assessed several key factors that influence inter-group relations, to assess levels of prejudice and the major drivers, including endorsement of multiculturalism, intergroup contact, in-group identification, symbolic threat, and realistic economic threat. The present article is a primary research article because the authors designed a study to research on a phenomenon using data that they collected. Data was collected through questionnaires. The questionnaires were filled by a defined population, in the form of Dutch adolescents. Afterwards, the data obtained were presented in various forms, including descriptive statistics, measument models, structural models, and alternative models.

The article explores a novel subject, and attempts to reveal new information for other researchers interested in the subjects being examined. The article also investigates a specific population, as opposed to reviewing the results of other studies on the subject. The information that the article may reveal could also be compared to other studies with similar themes, in order to build a body of knowledge on the subject of interest.

Summary of Article Content

In the present article, the authors investigate what influence the prejudicial sentiments of Dutch adolescents towards Muslim minorities in the country, using the integrated threat theory. The authors objectives were to determine the extents of perceived symbolic threats, realistic threats, and negative stereotypes, and how these interacted with in-group identification, multiculturalism endoresement, and inter-group contact.

Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Muslim communities increasingly became the targets of hostility abroad. Even some politicians have actively shunned Muslim communities, leading to some feelings of fear and mistrust in communities where Muslims are minorities (Velasco González, Verkuyten, Weesie, & Poppe, 2008). In 2005, a Pew study established that up to 51% of Dutch nationals perceived Islam as a retrogressive religion that threatened the stability of Dutch society (Velasco González et al., 2008).

It is critical to understand what factors drive such sentiments. An understanding of the undelying factors could offer means of minimizing conflict, and discrimination, while enhancing cohesion. The authors use the strong anti-muslim sentiments to test the integrated threat theory. Integrated threat theory recognizes that we live in a world where conflict arises due to religion, race, political ideology, ethnicity, class, as well as sex. This is because social groups, and many more grouping, influence our identities and daily experiences. The above membership groups both include and exclude people, through membership criteria and perceived boundaries. Although perceived boundaries may not automatically imply conflict, in practice, interactions between groups are more often antagonistic than complementary (Stephan & Mealy, 2011).

According to social identity theorists, intergroup conflicts arise based on the psychological benefits conferred by group membership, such as acceptance, social support, roles, values, norms and beliefs that influence behavior (Stephan & Mealy, 2011). Prejucide can be interpreted from various perspectives. It could be as a result of personality factors, social group membership, and categorisation processes. In addition, perceptions of threat could generate prejudice against out-groups or immigrants. For example, immigrants may be perceived as a threat to established ways of life by a resident ppopulation. According to the integrated threat theory, regardless of whether perceptions of threat are justified, four classes of threats can result in prejudice, incuding realistic threats, negative stereotyping, symbolic threats, and intergroup anxiety (Velasco González et al., 2008).

Realistic threats may be defined in economic, political, or physical terms. Such threats may manifest in the form of competition for scarce resources such as jobs. In addition, a perceived need to protect in-group interests could lead to negative attitudes and discrimination. Symbolic threats are associated with perceived differences in beliefs, values and norms. Cosequently, in cases where a group perceives another culture as holding opposing views, they might consider the other party a threat to their established ways of life. In addition, stereotypes manifest as expectations regarding the activities of other outgroups, which may transform into prejudices (Stephan & Mealy, 2011).

41% of respondents reported negative feelings towards Muslim members of the society. 40% reported neutrality, while 19% had a positive attitude, Based on the score for social distance. There was greater association between in-group identification and symbolic threat, compared with realistic threat and stereotypes. Morevoer, there was no significant direct influence of in-group identification on prejudice towards Muslims. High levels of contact between the participants and Muslims was associated with less negative stereotypes, alsthough not symbolic and realistic threats. Similarly, lower levels of perceived threats led to stronger endorsement of multiculturalism (Velasco González et al., 2008).

Furthermore, the authors cited the works of other researchers when explaining the results obtained in the study under exploration. The authors mainly referred to other studies that explore integrated threat theory in other contexts or countries. This comparison with other studies examining similar attitudes helped to explain the results and make conclusions on the same.

Social Psychology

The above article fits into Social psychology. Human are social animals. They might live in a single place or in different communities over the course of their lives, but the interactions in that span of time will influence them or change them significantly. Social psychology, therefore, is the study of how humans think and behave in social contexts or situations (Pastorino & Doyle-Portillo, 2011). Humans spend most of their time interacting with other humans. Consequently, social psychology encompasses many more diverse topics.

Social cognition, for instance, examines how humans think about themselves and the people they observe or interact with, including how humans form prejudices about others, as well as how humans may get attracted to others. Social influence, another area of social psychology, looks at the way other humans may influence our behavior. For example, how the actions of one may make another do what they know they ought not to do.

The study of attitudes also falls under social psychology. Attitudes represent evaluative hudgements that are influenced by what we have gathered or how we feel about things, places, or people. Consequently, people’s attitudes represent their perceptions and nterpretations of the world arround them. Attitudes, just like beliefs, are acquired through learning, via classical and operant conditioning, and observational learning (Pastorino & Doyle-Portillo, 2011). Classical conditioning is responsible for acquisition of some learned emotional or psychological responses in humans, with the capacity to change how humans feel about certain stimuli. On the other hand, in operant conditioning, random behaviors are reinforced if they result in rewards, and weakened if followed by punishment, while according to observational learning, we simply learn by watching the actions of others (Pastorino & Doyle-Portillo, 2011).

Other key sub-topics in social psychology that the article, ‘prejudice towards Muslims in the Netherlands: testing integrated threat theory, addresses, are prejudice and inter-group dynamics. As people acquire knowledge regarding the world around them, the knowledge is stored in general knowledge formats referred to as schemata. Schemata are hosted in people’s long-term memories and enable them to more effectively process, store, and retrieve information. When one forms a schema regarding a particular group of people, the schema represents a stereotype. All individuals hold stereotypes for the individuals or groups they encounter in their daily activities. Stereotypes could become problematic when they are generically employed to all individuals of a group without duly considering their potentially unique characteristic, in turn leading to prejudice (Pastorino & Doyle-Portillo, 2011).

Everyone belongs to a certain group, whether family club, state, school, country, religion, or race. A person’s role in a group would define them as an individual. In addition, since people tend to identify with the groups to which they belong, they are more likely to prefer the norms and values associated with the same group. In-group bias, therefore, refers to the tendency of people to be somewhat fonder of people in their own groups as opposed to non-members. Nevertheless, increased contact with an out-group could reduce prejudice and potential conflict as one ‘admits’ the non-member into their circle, while encountering information or facts that go against their own stereotypes. Consequently, proximity, similarity, and general attractiveness will draw us to other groups and reduce chances of conflict (Pastorino & Doyle-Portillo, 2011).

Comparison with other Articles in Non-Scholarly Periodicals

The article under exploration is quite different from other articles found in non-scholarly periodicals. The article does not only report the results of a new study, but also how the study was conducted. This includes an elaborate exploration of the issues under investigation, the objectives of the study, the methods applied in the study, the results, as well as a discussion of the results against other similar studies. Non-scholarly periodicals would not present information organized in the above format. The way the information is presented is clear, so that any other scholar that may wish to replicate the study to confirm the results would be able to replicate it and test any aspects of the study that may be surprising or unexpected.

In addition, the article, unlike those in non-scholarly journals, cites the authorities of any information presented in the course of the study. This would facilitate further investigations or studies on the subject matter by any interested scholar. This further makes the work authoritative, so that the information presented is nor hearsay or an opinion, which could be easily dismissed.

The article under review here is published in the British Journal of Social Psychology. Any articles published in the above journal undergo a rigorous peer-review process before being published to the scientific community. This may involve several anonymous experts in the field of social psychology looking at all aspects of the research process to reveal any potential bias or inconsistencies. This process not only ensures that the quality of the work is improved, but also that it conforms to the generally acknowledged principles of research and scientific reporting. Other articles in non-scholarly journals may not undergo such levels or scrutiny and revision.

Conclusion

The paper, prejudice towards Muslims in the Netherlands: testing integrated threat theory, published in the British Journal of Social Psychology addresses the topics of prejudice and group dynamics in a social psychology framework. Specifically, the authors investigate whether adolescent students in the Netherlands hold prejudicial sentiments towards the Muslim minority in the country. The main theory applied in the study was integrated threat theory. The results revealed that up to 50% of the adolescents held negative feelings towards Muslims. The authors concluded that the prejudice against Muslims was more associated with symbolic threats and stereotypes, compared to realistic threats.

The study topics fit within social psychology, which is the study of how humans think or behave is social situations. More specifically, the article explores inter-group dynamics and prejudice. Prejudice is a negative implication of stereotypes, where stereotypes are generalized information regarding out-groups, without due attention to the possibility of individual differences even within groups.

The study is presented in the form of a scientific article or report. It reports the results of an original study, not reported elsewhere. In addition, the report presents background information, the study objectives, methods applied in the study, the results, as well as a discussion of the results based on available literature. In addition, the article is published in a peer-reviewed journal, implying that before publication, it underwent a rigorous review process to ascertain the standard of the work done, and whether it complies with generally accepted research conventions. The work also cites other numerous studies that address similar topics, which makes the work authoritative. In non-scholarly journals, citation of sources may not be mandatory.

The authors conclude that integrated threat theory presents a critical framework for studying prejudice towards Muslims. The findings of the study, in addition to the theory, contribute to a better understanding of the dynamics or processes that lead to strong negative sentiments or prejudicial attitudes towards Muslims or other out-groups. The findings of the study may also offer solutions to scholars or policy makers seeking methods of minimizing or eliminating misdirected anti-Muslim feelings.

References

Pastorino, E. E., & Doyle-Portillo, S. M. (2011). What is psychology? : Nelson Education.

Stephan, W. G., & Mealy, M. D. (2011). Intergroup threat theory. The encyclopedia of peace psychology.

Velasco González, K., Verkuyten, M., Weesie, J., & Poppe, E. (2008). Prejudice towards Muslims in the Netherlands: Testing integrated threat theory. British Journal of Social Psychology, 47(4), 667-685.

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