Anti-Muslim Sentiments: The Effect of Direct and Parasocial Contacts

Sunday, 10 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 31 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Gert PICKEL, Leipzig University, Germany
Alexander YENDELL, Leipzig University, Germany
The contact hypothesis (Allport 1954) assumes that contacts with members of an outgroup under certain conditions reduces stereotypes and leads to positive attitudes towards them. Indeed, many studies on the contact hypothesis suggests that face to face contact even in less than optimal conditions may produce significant reductions in prejudice, varying in magnitude according to frequency, duration and intensity (Pettigrew and Tropp 2006). However, this is not the case with indirect or ‘parasocial’ contact (Horton and Wohl 1956): in particular bad news about Islam seems to have a negative effect on attitudes towards Islam and Muslims (Schiffer 2005; Hafez 2010). This is especially problematic if negative attitudes shaped by indirect contacts with Islam and Muslims are not mitigated by prejudice reducing direct contacts  – for instance in East Germany where only very few Muslims live and where after 9/11 the derogation of Muslims has increased to a very threatening situation especially with the recent emergence of HOGESA (Hooligans against Salafists) and PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident). Against this background we ask the following questions. What kind of face-to-face contacts reduce the stereotyping regarding Muslims? Do various forms of stereotype-reducing contacts differ between age groups, gender and educational background? How does media (public TV, private TV, newspapers, Radio and Internet) influence anti-Muslim sentiments? And in what way does the debate of religious extremism in different settings have an impact on the views on Islam?

Our research is based on the quantitative database of the Religion Monitor 2013, which gathers data from 13 countries, as well as the German General Social Survey (2012) and the European Values Study (1989 – 2014) and a study conducted at the University of Münster (“Perceptance and Acceptance of Religious Diversity 2010”).