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IBS Speaker Series: Can Exposure to Celebrities Reduce Prejudice?: The Effect of Mohamed Salah on Islamophobic Behaviors and Attitudes

February 22, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Zoom link: https://cuboulder.zoom.us/j/98382278178 – email ibs-contact@colorado.edu for password.

Alexandra Siegel

Presentation Video

Abstract: Can exposure to celebrities from a stigmatized group reduce prejudice toward that group writ large? We estimate the causal effect of Mohammed Salah—a visibly Muslim soccer player—joining Liverpool Football Club on Islamophobia, using hate crime reports throughout England, 15 million tweets from British soccer fans, and a survey experiment of Liverpool fans. We find that hate crimes in Merseyside (home to Liverpool F.C.) dropped by 16% compared to a synthetic control, and Liverpool fans halved their rates of posting anti-Muslim tweets relative to fans of other topflight clubs. Our survey experiment suggests that the salience of Salah’s Muslim identity enabled positive feelings toward Salah to generalize to Muslims more broadly. Providing real-world behavioral measures of prejudice reduction and experimental evidence from a naturalistic setting, our findings provide support for the parasocial contact hypothesis, indicating that positive exposure to outgroup role models can reduce prejudice.

Bio: Alexandra Siegel is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Colorado Boulder, a faculty affiliate of NYU’s Center for Social Media and Politics and Stanford's Immigration Policy Lab, and a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution. She received her PhD in Political Science from NYU in 2018. Her research uses social media data, network analysis, and experiments—in addition to more traditional data sources—to study mass and elite political behavior in the Arab World and other comparative contexts. She is a former Junior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a former CASA Fellow at the American University in Cairo. She holds a Bachelors in International Relations and Arabic from Tufts University.


February 22, 2021
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm


Program on International Development