The face of terrorism: Stereotypical Muslim facial attributes evoke implicit perception of threat

Faculty/Professorship: General Psychology and Methodology  
Author(s): Harsányi, Géza ; Raab, Marius  ; Hesslinger, Vera M. ; Düclos, Denise; Zink, Janina; Carbon, Claus-Christian  
Title of the Journal: Perception
ISSN: 0301-0066
Corporate Body: 35th European Conference on Visual Perception (ECVP), 2012, Alghero.
Publisher Information: London : Pion
Year of publication: 2012
Volume: 41
Issue: 41 ( 2012), supplement
Pages: 111
Language(s): English
Nur Abstract
Al-Qaida’s founder Osama bin Laden wore highly iconic paraphernalia (Carbon, 2008 Perception 37(5) 801–806), namely a turban and a characteristic beard. As the media consistently presented him in this distinctive style, his outward appearance formed a visual stereotype of Islamist terrorists that, in most cases, did not match the appearance of Islamist assassins. Using the multidimensional Implicit Association Test (md-IAT, Gattol et al, 2011 Plos One 6(1) e15849) we tested the effect of adding accordant stereotypical paraphernalia to male Caucasian faces (‘Muslim-version’): Compared to the original, non-manipulated versions, the ‘Muslim-versions’ were evaluated as being more irrational, unintelligent, unreliable and, particularly, as being more dangerous. Importantly, non psychologists’ and psychologists’ data did not show any significant difference concerning these implicit measures but did so for explicit measures assessed by a further test. This dissociate data pattern demonstrates that iconic presentations elicit stereotypical associations independently of explicit reports. We argue that visual attributes like a particular kind of beard and a turban are associated with conformity to Islam, which is again associated with terrorist threat. More generally, the results suggest that the mere presence of visual attributes can induce implicit black-and-white categorization and undifferentiated prejudice toward people of other cultures.
Keywords: face perception, islamophobia, iconic face representation, multi-dimensional Implicit Association Test (md-IAT)
Type: Conferenceobject
Year of publication: 15. July 2013