The election of the United States' first African American president has been welcomed as evidence the nation is belatedly moving beyond bigotry. But two new studies suggest that at least one unconscious prejudice -- a fear or dislike of Muslims -- remains very much alive.
"Islamophobia," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said Wednesday at a two-day United Nations interfaith dialogue, "has emerged as a new term for an old and terrible form of prejudice."
The first is "The Turban Effect," published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology by a team from the University of New South Wales in Sydney. It suggests that simply noticing someone is a Muslim increases aggressive tendencies on the part of non-Muslim Westerners.
Psychologists Christian Unkelbach, Joseph Forgas and Tom Denson modified a pre-existing computer game in which participants are instructed to shoot at subjects carrying weapons, but hold their fire when they spot someone who is unarmed. The target subjects were of both genders and a variety of races, but, most importantly for this study, some were given a Muslim appearance -- that is, they wore a turban or the hijab....