Semester

Summer

Date of Graduation

2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Type

MS

College

Eberly College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Psychology

Committtee Chair

Natalie J. Shook

Committee Co-Chair

Amy Gentzler

Committee Member

Daniel McNeil

Abstract

Understanding intergroup relations and the anxiety that can result has become increasingly relevant to interactions between Muslim and non-Muslim individuals due to current tensions between Islamic groups and many Western nations (e.g., acts of terrorism in Madrid and London, the U.S. War on Terror). Furthermore, the anticipated increase in migration from the Middle East and North Africa to Western countries will undoubtedly lead to increased contact between Muslim and non-Muslim groups. In order to improve intergroup relations and reduce potential conflict between groups, it is important to understand factors that influence intergroup contact. One such factor is intergroup anxiety, or the discomfort and unease an individual feels when interacting with an unfamiliar out-group member. The goal of this research was to develop a measure that assesses levels of anxiety non-Muslims experience when thinking of interacting with Muslims. Two studies were conducted to assess the reliability and validity of the new measure. In Study 1, an exploratory factor analysis identified 16 items that reliably assessed intergroup anxiety toward Muslims with three subscales (e.g., Future Interactions, Comfort, and Settings). The scale demonstrated good convergent and discriminant validity across the two studies, such that participants who reported higher levels of intergroup anxiety toward Muslims also reported more negative attitudes toward Muslims, were more prejudiced toward Arabs, and experienced more general anxiety, intergroup anxiety, and social anxiety. Also, an independent samples t-test found the Intergroup Anxiety toward Muslims Scale to be reliable across samples and method of data collection. Overall, the measure was found to be a valid and reliable assessment of intergroup anxiety toward Muslims.

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