In the latest episode of Discovery, an ongoing series via The Conversation Weekly podcast, we hear about recent research that showed how a Muslim celebrity footballer helped reduce Islamophobia.
When Mohamed Salah joined Liverpool football club in 2017, he quickly became the Premier League team’s star player. As Liverpool went from success to success, fans embraced the Egyptian footballer, who is a practising Muslim. They even invented new songs about him, including the refrain: “If he scores another few then I’ll be Muslim too.”
For Salma Mousa, a political scientist at Yale University in the US, Salah’s popularity presented an opportunity to study a psychological hypothesis called the parasocial contact theory. This suggests that mass exposure to celebrities from minority groups can improve tolerance towards them.
Mousa wanted to know: “Does exposure to Mo Salah reduce Islamophobia and reduce prejudice toward Muslims?” When Mousa and her colleagues designed a suite of experiments to answer that question, they reported what they called the “Mo Salah effect”.
Listen to the full episode to hear Mousa explain their findings, and what they’re looking into next. Follow The Conversation Weekly wherever you get your podcasts for more episodes of Discovery series every couple of weeks.
Listen to episodes of Discovery by searching for The Conversation Weekly wherever you listen to podcasts.
This episode was produced and written by Gemma Ware with sound design by Eloise Stevens. Mend Mariwany and Katie Flood are also producers on the show. Our theme music is by Neeta Sarl. The clip of football chanting in this episode is via The Redmen TV on YouTube.
You can find us on Twitter @TC_Audio, on Instagram at theconversationdotcom or via email. You can also sign up to The Conversation’s free daily email here. A transcript of this episode is now available.