Marc Helbing, Felix Jäger, Richard Traunmüller
Muslim Bias or Fear of Fundamentalism? A Survey Experiment in Five Western European Democracies

Research & Politics, 2022: 9, Heft 1, (e-only)
ISSN: 2053-1680 (print), 2053-1680 (online)

Several studies have shown that attitudes toward immigrants to Europe are marked by a Muslim bias. More recently, Helbling and Traunmüller (2020) have suggested that this Muslim bias is in fact driven by a religiosity bias and thus that the strength of migrant’ religiosity has a bigger effect on attitudes towards them than their nominal faith. The aim of this paper is to replicate and expand Helbling and Traunmüller with a fresh full factorial survey experiment, fielded in 2016/17. We go beyond the limitations of Helbling and Traunmüller, who study the effects of nominal faith, religiosity, and Nigerian as well as Bulgarian immigrants in Great Britain, by including Austria, Germany, France, and Switzerland to rule out idiosyncratic context effects. Moreover, we distinguish between labor migrants and refugees and include Syrian origin. For different groups of migrants in all five countries, our results confirm that the Muslim bias is mainly driven by the degree of migrants’ and refugees’ religiosity: secular and devout Muslims are viewed more positively than both Muslim and Christian fundamentalists.