This study analyzes the determinants of American public opinion towards Islam and Muslims. It examines the impact of both period of time (1990–2020) and significant events (e.g., September 11, 2001) on the general impression (favorability) and knowledge of Islam among the American people. Twenty-two polls including questions about the favorability and the knowledge of Islam and carried out between 1990 and 2020 were analyzed. The results show that (1) positive attitudes towards Islam increase over time, meaning that time has a positive impact on Americans’ impressions about Islam; (2) knowledge about Islam among the American people increases over time—time has also been found to have a positive impact on Americans’ knowledge about Islam; and (3) there is a reciprocal correlation between knowledge and attitudes. Knowledge of Islam has a positive impact on attitudes, and attitudes have positive impact on knowledge about Islam. The findings of this study set the base for a strategic plan to improve the image of Islam in the United States and Americans’ knowledge about Muslims and their true beliefs.
The Benefit of the Doubt or the Underdog Effect?: American Public Attitudes towards Islam, 1990–2020
Ayman Mansour Nada is Professor of Mass Communications in the Radio and Television Department, Faculty of Mass Communication, Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Ayman Mansour Nada; The Benefit of the Doubt or the Underdog Effect?: American Public Attitudes towards Islam, 1990–2020. Contemporary Arab Affairs 1 March 2022; 15 (1): 58–79. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/caa.2022.15.1.58
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