Is there a difference or is it just fabric? : implicit cognition and the headscarf
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The research presented in this paper offers preliminary findings of non-Muslim peers’ perceptions of Muslim women, who wear the headscarf. To which degree does a piece of fabric illicit negative stereotypes of Muslim women? And how does it affect their non-Muslim peer’s interaction with them? To investigate these question, a sample of 108 men and women from the undergraduate subject pool of a public university in Texas completed a survey comprising several scales to measure general stereotypes and perceptions of Muslim women, and qualitative reflections and responses to images and information provided. The most interesting and compelling general result is that though the majority of participants in my study professed egalitarian beliefs and passionately support Muslim women’s constitutional rights, the headscarf still served as an implicit trigger for some degree of negative stereotyping. Including tendency for socially desirable and Moderacy Response Style (MRS). Thus, I could assert that it is not simply fabric; the wearing of the headscarf seemed to impact the overall evaluation of the woman in a negative direction when compared to women not wearing the headscarf. Interestingly, the findings further suggest that clothing stereotypes, including the headscarf as a negative marker, and attractiveness play a role in first impression formation of Muslim women. I found that having attractive facial features led to higher ratings on several positive attribute scales than were received by a less attractive person not wearing a headscarf. Finally, qualitative data indicated that style and color of the headscarf’s fabric affects perceptions too. Many participants preferred lighter colored scarves that complemented the woman’s complexion, and fashionable attire.