Psychological Research With Muslim Americans in the Age of Islamophobia: Trends, Challenges, and Recommendations

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Abstract

Like other minority groups in North America, Muslim Americans have been largely ignored in the psychological literature. The overwhelming pressures faced by this group, including surveillance, hate crimes, and institutional discrimination, stimulate an urgent need for psychologists to better understand and ensure the well-being of this population. This article reviews challenges in conducting research with Muslim Americans in order to offer recommendations for culturally sensitive approaches that can enhance the growth of future scholarship. We first contextualize this endeavor by assessing trends in psychological scholarship pertinent to Muslims in North America over the past two decades. A total of 559 relevant publications were identified through a PsycINFO database search. The 10 years post 9/11 saw a more than 900% increase in the annual number of publications, paralleling a national interest in the Muslim American community subsequent to the World Trade Center attacks. Researchers who conducted these studies faced numerous barriers, including unclear definition of the target sample, unavailability of culturally sensitive measures, sampling difficulties, and obstacles to participant recruitment. To navigate these challenges, we provide a framework for effective research design along the continuum of the research process from study conceptualization to dissemination of results. The challenges and recommendations are illustrated with examples from previous studies.

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