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The influence of Muslim headgear and induced affect on aggressive responses in the shooter bias paradigm

muslim headgearOn the third anniversary of the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, an innocent man shot dead by police in London who thought he was a suicide bomber, a timely and depressing article currently in press in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology:

Does Islamic appearance increase aggressive tendencies, and what role does affect play in such responses? In a computer game, participants made rapid decisions to shoot at armed people, some of whom wore Islamic head dress. We predicted and found a significant bias for participants to shoot more at Muslim targets. We also predicted and found that positive mood selectively increased aggressive tendencies towards Muslims, consistent with affect-cognition theories that predict a more top-down, stereotypical processing style in positive mood. In contrast, induced anger increased the propensity to shoot at all targets. The relevance of these results for our understanding of real-life negative reactions towards Muslims is discussed, and the influence of affective states on rapid aggressive responses is considered.


Photo credit: “Muslim Crop” by Olly Farrell, Creative Commons License


  1. Outside Observer wrote:

    “We predicted and found…”, “We also predicted and found…”

    To me, these two statements indicate there might be confirmation bias in this study.
    How reputable is the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology?
    Did this study pass rigorous peer review?

    Posted on 28-Jul-08 at 12:26 pm | Permalink
  2. EmmaB wrote:

    Yes, this is a reputable, well-established peer-reviewed journal.

    Posted on 30-Jul-08 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

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