Tearing Us Apart? Muslims’ Attitudes Toward the Majority Population in Response to Differentiated Versus Undifferentiated News About Terror

Desirée Schmuck, Jörg Matthes, Christian von Sikorski, Mona Rahmanian, Beril Bulat


The intensive news coverage about terrorist attacks committed by the so-called Islamic State (IS) has raised concerns about unwanted effects on intergroup relations between Muslims and non-Muslims in Western societies. News coverage, which makes an explicit distinction between Muslims and IS terrorists (i.e., differentiated news), may reduce negative media perceptions, perceived discrimination, and hostile intergroup attitudes among Muslims. Within two experimental studies, we explored Muslim news consumers’ responses to terror news coverage depending on news differentiation and the terrorist attack’s proximity. Results indicated that Muslims evaluated the perceived news quality of differentiated compared with undifferentiated news reports higher irrespective of the terrorist attack’s proximity, which was negatively related to perceived discrimination and negative attitudes toward the non-Muslim majority population. These findings suggest that news differentiation can contribute to improved intergroup relations between Muslim minority members and the non-Muslim majority population in Western societies.


Terrorism news, differentiation, proximity, discrimination, Muslims, Islam

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