An Intervention to Increase Positive Attitudes and Address Misconceptions About Australian Muslims: A Call for Education and Open Mindedness

Document Type

Journal Article


The Australian Psychological Society


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Computer and Security Science / Centre for Security Research


Pedersen, A., Aly, A., Hartley, L., & McGarty, C. (2009). An intervention to increase positive attitudes and address misconceptions about Australian Muslims: A call for education and open mindedness. The Australian Community Psychologist, 21(2), 81-93. Available here


The present study describes a nine-week anti-prejudice intervention targeting attitudes towards Australian Muslims at a Western Australian university in 2008 using data from 19 Psychology students. Quantitative results found a marginal increase in reported positive attitudes towards Australian Muslims, together with a significant reduction in the reporting of negative media-related beliefs. Using a thematic analysis on reported attitudes and beliefs about Muslim integration and immigration, we found differences in the themes expressed before and after the intervention. Beforehand, themes included a cultural divide in values; a need for more cultural understanding; and aspects of Islamic ideology restrict Muslims from integrating. Afterward, themes included an increased awareness of structural issues affecting Australian Muslims; a re-framing of citizenship as a shared identity; an increased awareness of negative representation of Muslims in the media; an acknowledgement of Australia’s inherent diversity; and a shift from homogenising Muslims as a group to constructing Muslims as part of a diverse society. Clearly, such interventions alone are not enough given historical and contemporary contexts. However, our study indicates that – in this context at least – in-depth cross-cultural analysis and learning can be used to bring about change.

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