Kristhy Bartels and Allyson Lowitz presented at the National Collegiate Honors Council Conference, an annual conference for honors students where hundreds of students presented their research and innovations to professors from all around the country. This year, the conference was held locally in Boston earlier in November.
Kristhy and Ally presented a project that they have been working on together with graduate student, Nicole Betz. On this project they investigated the portrayal of Muslim and non-Muslim perpetrators of mass violence in the media. They analyzed language that different media sources used when discussing events of mass violence. They seeked to find out if the language was different in these sources if the perpetrator of the shooting was a Muslim individual versus a non-Muslim individual. They hypothesised that Muslim individuals were more frequently villainized, more frequently received internal culpability and more frequently labeled as members of a social group than their non-Muslim counterparts.
The team’s results indeed support their hypothesis. News sources about Muslim mass perpetrators more frequently villainize the individual (as opposed to victimize them), place internal blame on the perpetrators (as opposed to blaming it on an external source), and labeled them as members of a social group. These findings have important social implications as the language used in these sources can create an association between all Muslim individuals and villain properties, perpetuating Islamophobic sentiments that are already rampant in America.
Congratulations to Ally and Kristhy for winning second place in the Social and Behavioral Sciences category! For more information about the conference and the other award winners please visit this link.