Experiment Shows One Way to Counteract Bias Against Muslims

Experiment Shows One Way to Counteract Bias Against Muslims
AP Photo/Nasser Nasser

An experiment conducted in German train stations involving paper cups and escaping oranges has found that people are less likely to help a woman if she appears to be Muslim — but they're more likely to help that same woman if she somehow proves that she shares their social values.

The findings, described in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveal that discrimination is a somewhat fluid phenomenon that can be mitigated — within certain limits.

Nicholas Sambanis, a political scientist at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the study authors, says he has long been interested in the discrimination faced by immigrants. In his home country of Greece, he watched as two waves of immigration in the 1980s and 1990s led to conflict in what was once a very ethnically homogeneous country.

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