Flemington, NJ, January 4, 2008 -- A new national study of more than 600 Americans revealed that a woman wearing a shawl or hijab, typically worn by Muslim women, is viewed significantly different than the same woman without the traditional headwear.
The study was conducted by HCD Research, using its mediacurves.com web site during January 2-3, to determine whether Americans possess different views of a woman based on whether or not she wears traditional Muslim headwear.
Participants were divided into two randomly assigned groups. Members of each group were asked to view one of two separate photos of an attractive young woman. Neither photo was identified in any way. Each sample was then asked identical questions about the woman, her age, perceived personality, activities, and how acceptable she might be as a neighbor.
One-third of participants indicated that they would rather have the woman with the traditional headwear live in another place, another city, and maybe out of the U.S, as opposed to living in their neighborhood. However, a clear majority of participants (89%) reported that the woman without the shawl would be welcome in their neighborhood.
The woman with the shawl on her head was perceived as somewhat older, and somewhat better off financially than the woman without the shawl. While the woman with the shawl was more likely to be a stay at home mother, the woman without the shawl might be a working married woman.
The woman with the shawl on her head was also viewed as much more traditional than the woman without the shawl. Participants also indicated that the woman with the shawl was strict and rigid, a good wife and devoted mother. She was also perceived as keeping to herself or a tight circle of people. Conversely, the woman without the shawl was perceived to be lively, friendly, and humorous. She was also viewed as a person who “always looks at the bright side” and might even be the life of the party.
Overwhelmingly, both photos of the woman were viewed as being attractive. However, more people thought the woman with the shawl was beautiful, and both women were seen as trustworthy.
At the end of the questionnaire, the participants specifically identified the woman with the shawl on her head as Middle-Eastern in origin and a Muslim; the woman without the shawl was perceived as an American and a Catholic (maybe Protestant or Jewish).
For detailed information on this study, please go to www.mediacurves.com The Media Curves web site provides the media and general public with a venue to view Americans’ perceptions of popular and controversial media events and advertisements.
Headquartered in Flemington, NJ, the company's services include traditional and web-based communications research. For additional information on HCD Research, access the company’s web site at www.hcdi.net or call HCD Research at 908-788-9393.
Editors/Reporters: For more information on the study, or to speak with Arthur Kover, Ph. D., consulting director, HCD Research, or Glenn Kessler, president and CEO, HCD Research, please contact Vince McGourty, HCD Research, at (908) 483-9121 or (email@example.com).