Are Out-group Stereotypes Influenced by Exposure to Religious Content?

By: Irene Rzpurker Apfeld   Lipaz Shamoa-Nir  

In recent years, we have witnessed the legislation in various countries that prohibit the wearing of religious signs in public places. This legislation assumes that trappings of religion might have adverse effects on perceptions and may also harm equality. In fact, this is consistent with most psychological theories of religion which assume that religion plays an important role in intergroup attitudes. Nevertheless, the process of stereotyping as an outcome of exposure to religious content has not been sufficiently investigated. Our first study examined the effect of exposure to Jewish and Arab (Muslim, Druze and Christian) national-religious symbols (yarmulke, hijab, etc.) on mutual attitudes. It was found that prior exposure to religious symbols evoked representations that moderated out-group stereotypes among Arabs but not among Jews. In addition, the Arabs were found not to be a homogeneous group, since each sub-group revealed a different stereotyping process induced by priming. Therefore, a second study was conducted in order to examine the influence of religious content among Jews and Arab-Muslim participants. The findings showed that priming did not affect out-group stereotypes of the majority group (Jews). However, the minority group participants (Muslims) perceived the majority group members (Jews) as more unpleasant when primed by out-group religious symbols, and as more antagonistic when primed by their own religious symbols. The findings highlight the influence of exposure to religious concepts (e.g. clothing, holy books) on negative attitudes in a culturally diverse reality. These findings may contribute to understanding the expected implications of legislation concerning religious symbols.

Out-group, Stereotypes, In-group, Attitudes, Religious, Symbols
2019 Special Focus—Universal Religious Symbols: Mutual Influences and Specific Relationships
Poster/Exhibit Session

Irene Rzpurker Apfeld

Lecturer, Zefat Academic College, Israel

Dr. Lipaz Shamoa-Nir