Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Psychology

First Advisor

Joseph D. Wellman

Second Advisor

Stephanie Miller

Third Advisor

Carrie V. Smith

Relational Format



Prejudice towards Muslims has been longstanding and is on the rise in the World. To address this prejudice, it is important to understand the associated underlying mechanism. Intergroup Threat Theory (ITT) suggests that prejudice is motivated by the perceived symbolic and/or realistic threat a group represents. To date, the relationship between threat and prejudice towards Muslims has primarily been examined correlationally rather than experimentally. This project experimentally examines ITT to understand the role of threat in prejudice towards Muslims. Across three studies, I examine how manipulating the salience of threat leads to prejudice, support for harsh policies, and violence towards Muslims. Studies 1 and 2 were conducted with a North American sample and aim to understand how perception of general (Study 1) and specific threat (Study 2) of Muslims predicts prejudice towards Muslims. Data was collected online via CloudResearch. Results of Study 1 indicate that individuals higher in SDO, RWA and identification with US express more prejudice towards Muslims when threat is made salient, specifically symbolic threat. Study 2 yielded no significant results. Study 3 was conducted India to assess whether perceptions of threat leads to prejudice towards Muslims in another context and results indicated that individuals exposed to threat express more prejudice towards Muslims than those not exposed to threat. This project offers unique and helpful contribution to ITT and prejudice literature. The results highlight the role of threat, individual differences and context in perpetuation of prejudice towards Muslims in USA and India.



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