The communication theories used to approach the problem of Arab prejudice in the military are uncertainty reduction and social judgment. Uncertainty reduction states that when strangers meet they seek to reduce their uncertainty about the other person. The more real or perceived similarities between two people, the more likely attraction or liking will exist.(Berger, 1979; Berger & Calabrese, 1975). By reducing the number of perceived cultural differences between the general military population and servicemembers of Arab heritage, incidents of harassment and prejudice against these Arab troops will decrease. Through an aggressive public affairs campaign we will educate our military audience about Arab customs, religion, and culture. This education will foster a better understanding of the lifestyles of Arab troops and reduce the uncertainty non-Arab troops feel toward them.
Social judgment theory (Sherif, Sherif & Nebergall, 1965) states that a message will be more or less successful based on how close it is to a person’s current beliefs. People accept messages they basically see as being close to their own and reject those that contrast them. Our campaign will take advantage of the more than fifty years of military integration and equal opportunity and advancements programs to move servicemembers with possible Arab prejudices from their anchor beliefs. The military has been proven to be a historical leader in race relations. Since most military members find it objectionable to use derogatory language against blacks, Asians, women, etc., they already hold an anchor that prejudice is wrong. We will show them that the same guiding principals that make these prejudices wrong should also apply to Arabs.
If a servicemember accepts the notion that all forms of prejudice are wrong, then they already have a pretty strong “anchor” concerning discrimination. Social judgment theory states that persuasion occurs best when an individual is challenged to accept an idea not too far from one he already has (Sherif et al., 1985). Accepting the idea that prejudice against Arabs is just as wrong as prejudice against any other group of people in the United States should not be a hard concept to understand if it is communicated properly.
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| Statement of Problem/Research Question
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