In this op-ed for Vox, social scientist reporter Brian Resnick writes about a psychological theory called “collective blame” — when we punish the whole for the actions of a few. This is something that many Muslims feel (and fear) on a daily basis. As Resnick writes, “There’s nothing logical about condemning millions of people — who are spread across the globe and are unrelated to each other except by religious tradition — for the actions of a few. You wouldn’t blame all white people for the actions of Dylann Roof, who walked into a church in Charleston, South Carolina, and killed nine African-American worshippers. You wouldn’t blame all Christians for the meanness of the Westboro Baptist Church.”
Emile Bruneau is a neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania and says that he finds that collective blame is related to thinking that “others” (outside of one’s faith or ethnicity) are less than human. “If you collectively blame an entire group for the actions of individuals, it makes it totally reasonable to exact your revenge from any person from that group,” says Mr. Bruneau. “You get a cycle going on where each cycle is motivated to commit violence against totally innocent members of the other group.” This also directly correlates with support for anti-Muslim immigration policies and prejudices, the psychologist says.
Mr. Bruneau and his team are working on ways to combat and change this unfair and dehumanizing perception. For more on the psychological testing, CLICK —