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Fischer, Peter; Greitemeyer, Tobias; Kastenmüller, Andreas (2007): What Do We Think About Muslims? The Validity of Westerners' Implicit Theories About the Associations Between Muslims' Religiosity, Religious Identity, Aggression Potential, and Attitudes Toward Terrorism. In: Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, Vol. 10, No. 3: pp. 373-382


In a series of three studies, we investigated the validity of implicit theories that the German public holds regarding Muslims. German participants expected Muslims to be more aggressive than Christians, and therefore be more supportive of terrorism than Christians. Furthermore, Muslims were assumed to be more intrinsically religious and to hold a stronger identity with their religion than Christians (Study 1). However, self-asessment surveys of Muslims and Christians in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS: ex-Soviet Union) revealed that Muslims were not more aggressive, more intrinsically religious, or more supportive of terrorism than Christians. In contrast, Muslims reported a stronger religious identification than Christians(Study 2). Correspondingly, threat to religious identity was found to affect only Muslims’, but not Christians’, attitudes toward terrorism conducted by outgroup perpetrators. In contrast to Germans’ implicit theories regarding Muslims, it was the importance of religious identity and not increased aggression potential that mediated this effect (Study 3).