The Impact of Terrorism on in-Group and Out-Group Perceptions and Relations.

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Introduction
“One could argue that it never has been so important as it is now to understand people’s wiliness to sacrifice for a cause” (Ginges & Atran, 2011). The focus of this report is to examine the impact of terrorism on in-group and out-group perceptions and relations. This report aims to examine four experimental studies regarding different aspects of terrorism. Firstly, the four experimental papers will be discussed, through the lens of the rationale underlying each study, the methodology employed, the results and the limitations of each study. After which the ecological validity of the findings will be discussed and whether these results are reflective of real-life perceptions on terrorism. Summaries

Das, E., Bushman, B. J., Bezemer, M. D., Kerkhof, P., Vermeulen, I. E. (2009). How terrorism news reports increase prejudice against out-groups: A terror management account. This research tests and examines the influence and link between terrorism news and death related thoughts resulting in prejudice against out-group members. Participants in study 1 consisted of 100 white European volunteers (40 men, 60 women). None of the participants were Muslim. Participants were randomly divided and assigned to one of two groups, in a between-subjects factorial design. The second factor in this research was not manipulated, as it occurred naturally in the middle of the data collection – the murder of Theo van Gogh, a Dutch film maker, by an Islamic extremist. One group watched a 12 minute programme about terrorism committed by Israeli extremists on Dutch news; the other group watched a 12 minute video clip on the 2004 Olympic Games. Subsequently, participants undertook a word fragment task which was composed of 17 death- related terms. Following this, participants undertook a measure of prejudice attitudes towards Arabs (as cited in Bushman & Banacci, 2004). Study 2, consisted of 101 white European volunteers (39 men, 62 women). Firstly, participants completed a 10 item self-esteem scale (Rosenberg, 1965). Participants were randomly assigned to read a newspaper article about terrorism or animal abuse. Similar, to study 1 participant’s completed a word fragment task as a measure of death-related thoughts. They then completed the implicit association test (IAT), which tests reaction times to target words, here participants were asked to classify into categories as quickly as possible, European names (e.g. Maarten) versus Arab names (e.g. Akbar); and good words (e.g. love) versus bad word (e.g. war). Each test was made up of 25 trails, the difference in reaction time between the two tests was used to calculate and measure prejudice attitudes. Study 3 in contrast to studies 1 and 2 used participants who were non-Muslims and from a European background; participants in study three came from different religious backgrounds. This study was made up of 179 participants (81 men, 98 women). The procedure employed was similar to that of study 2. Results in study 1 indicated that news reports on terrorism increased death-related thoughts which in turn, influenced attitudes of prejudice towards Arabs, but only after Van Gogh’s death. Results from study 2 suggest that high self-esteem acts as a buffer against the effects of terrorism news reports. Terrorism news reports are more likely to increase prejudice for viewer who have low self-esteem. Results yielded in study 3 purport that news reports about terrorism increased prejudice against Arabs for non-Muslims and increased prejudice against Europeans for Muslim audiences. In looking at some limitations, this research did not directly examine the relationship between death-related thoughts and prejudice against Europeans from a Muslim background. For example, prejudice against Europeans might be a bi-product of anger or disappointment, rather than their fear of death or threat to their morality. Future research in this area would benefit by conducting an in-depth...
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