Acculturation preferences and perceived (dis)loyalty of Muslims in the U.K.: Two vignette-based experimental studies
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionInternational Journal of Intercultural Relations. 2023, 93, 101759. 10.1016/j.ijintrel.2023.101759
Muslims in the U.K. who maintain their religious culture are often viewed as a suspect community. This pre-registered experimental research examined the mediating role of perceived (dis)loyalty as underlying process and the moderating role of acculturation expectations. A total of 334 non-Muslim White British participants in Study 1 and 810 in Study 2 were asked to indicate their acculturation expectations towards Muslims. They were then randomly assigned to read a text that described Muslims in a fictional town as either (a) maintaining their religious culture or (b) adopting the mainstream British culture, or they read (c) a neutral control text. As expected, in Study 1, when Muslims were presented as maintaining their religious culture, trust decreased compared to the control group. Conversely, when described as adopting the mainstream culture, trust increased while support for surveillance of Muslims decreased. Both effects were mediated by the perception of Muslims being disloyal or loyal to the U.K in both studies, respectively. Perceived loyalty to their religious group did not significantly mediate any effect. We replicated these findings in Study 2. Moreover, we showed that describing Muslims as maintaining their religious culture decreased trust and increased support for surveillance especially among participants who expected Muslims to give up their religious culture. Moderated mediation analysis showed that these effects were partly mediated by perceived loyalty to the U.K. We discuss the societal implications of the findings for policymakers and Muslim leaders along with recommendations for future research.