First Advisor

Kimberly Barsamian Kahn

Term of Graduation

Spring 2021

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology






Islamophobia -- United States, Prejudices -- United States, Muslims -- Government policy -- United States, Social psychology, Intergroup relations



Physical Description

1 online resource (v, 139 pages)


Following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Muslims in the United States were victims of increased surveillance by law enforcement on the basis of their religious identity, often resulting in mistreatment and unjustified imprisonment. These biases against Muslims and subsequent policy shifts have been pervasive and have had negative impacts on the growing number of Muslims in the United States. The current study focuses on individual differences that predict Islamophobia, including Social Dominance Orientation (SDO), Right-wing Authoritarianism (RWA), and Nationalism, as well as the specific types of intergroup threat perceptions (i.e., realistic, symbolic, terroristic) and subsequent emotional reactions (e.g., anger, fear) that may drive these relationships. Participants (N = 603) completed a survey measuring SDO, RWA, Nationalism, threat perceptions, Islamophobia, emotional reactions toward Muslims, and support for anti-Muslim policies. Results demonstrated that higher levels of SDO, RWA, and Nationalism each independently predicted more Islamophobia through increased realistic, symbolic, and terroristic threat perceptions, respectively. Further, Islamophobia independently mediated the relationships between each type of perceived threat and anti-Muslim policy support (e.g., Muslim ban), such that those with higher levels of each type of perceived threat were more likely to hold Islamophobic attitudes which predicted more support for anti-Muslim policies. Together, these findings suggest that the susceptibility of individuals high in SDO, RWA, and Nationalism to perceive Muslims as threatening influences their support for policies related to those ideologies through the activation of perceived threats. The emotional components of each type of threat perception and their relation to anti-Muslim policy support, however, remain unclear. Potential avenues for improving our understanding of the role of emotions in threat-based attitudes and behaviors are discussed.


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