Opposing the Ground Zero Mosque

Jia, L., Karpen, S. C., & Hirt, E. R. (2011). Beyond anti-Muslim sentiment: Opposing the ground zero mosque as a means to pursuing a stronger America. PsychologicalScience, 22(10), 1327-1335.

Opposition to a planned Islamic community center and mosque near Ground Zero in lower Manhattan has been viewed as a manifestation of anti-Muslim attitudes. Jia, Karpen, and Hirt (2011) proposed another explanation – that this opposition stems from motivation to regain a positive American identity, which may have weakened as a result of recent economic, social, or political conditions. In order to manipulate threat to national identity, the researchers asked American undergraduate participants to read one of two fabricated reports about the economic well-being and international status of the United States: “America on the Decline” or “America on the Rise.” Results showed that anti-Muslim attitudes were a predictor of opposition to the Islamic center. In addition, participants who read the article describing a decline in economic and international position were more opposed to the Islamic community center than those who read the positive article. This was particularly true for participants who identified strongly with the United States. Jia and colleagues suggested that research identifying the motivation behind intergroup attitudes may be an important step in developing interventions to reduce intergroup conflict.

Making Connections

Ingroup favoritism
Intergroup relations
Motivation
Social identity theory

Media Supplement

Off-Ramp commentator Marc Haefele discusses the Arab roots of Ground Zero.