(De)humanization and (Dis)trust: Representations of Muslims in the UK Newspapers Following the 7/7 London Bombings

Reeshma Haji*, Shelley McKeown, Alex Matthews, Samantha Platten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Dehumanization and distrust can have devastating consequences for intergroup relations. Until now, few studies have examined the ways in which both (de)humanizing and (dis)trustful discourse are presented in popular media. Recognizing the detrimental effects of terrorism on intergroup attitudes and the power of media in influencing social and political attitudes, the present research examined the frequency of (de)humanizing and (dis)trustful statements in newspaper coverage of the July 7, 2005, London bombings in the aftermath and at the 10-year anniversary of the attack. Drawing from theoretical work on dehumanization, it was expected that (de)humanizing content in media coverage about a stereotyped outgroup would be linked to (dis)trust of that group, and would also be linked to political orientation of the media source. Primary analyses were conducted using an existing manual coding framework for frequency of (de)humanizing and (dis)trustful statements. Results from the coding show that dehumanizing and distrusting discourse was more frequent than humanizing and trusting discourse. Whereas dehumanization was significantly correlated with distrust only in the right-wing source, humanization was significantly correlated with trust only in the left-wing source. The findings advance theoretical understandings of (de)humanization and humanization as they manifest in media discourse following a terrorist event, and how these relate to outgroup (dis)trust. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)256-267
Number of pages12
JournalPeace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology
Issue number2
Early online date12 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021

Structured keywords

  • SoE Centre for Psychological Approaches for Studying Education
  • SoE Centre for Comparative and International Research in Education


  • Dehumanization
  • intergroup trust
  • terrorism
  • Islamophobia
  • political orientation


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