Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Charles C. Warfield

Second Advisor

Dr. David Cowden

Third Advisor

Dr. Shirley Woodworth


American students, as well as people of other nations, form perceptions of others who differ from their own cultural, racial, and social groups. These mental pictures are "stereotypes."

The purpose of this study was to identify stereotypes that American students enrolled at Western Michigan University (WMU) had about Arabs and to determine if there were differences in these stereotypes when students were classified by race, sex, level of education, age, and sources of stereotypes. Twenty-five bipolar adjectives were organized as semantic differential scales to assess students' perceptions. The instrument was either mailed or hand delivered to a sample of 400 students; 296 (74%) responded. The t test and one-way analysis of variance were used for each of the 25 scales. Major findings of the analyses of data were: (1) Arabs were stereotyped by WMU American students as quite rich and anti-American. They also described Arabs as slightly autocratic, radical, terrorist, knowledgeable, brave, and intelligent. (2) Differences were found between black and white American students in the way Arabs were stereotyped on 7 of the 25 adjective scales. (3) Differences were found between male and female students on only 2 adjective scales. (4) Differences were found between graduate and undergraduate students in their stereotypes of Arabs on 6 of the 25 polar pairs. (5) It was found that the age of the students had a significant effect on their stereotypes of Arabs. Differences in the mean test scores between age groups showed that the youngest group of students held the most unfavorable stereotypes toward Arabs over the other groups of students. (6) The primary source on which American students based their information had a significant effect on their stereotypes. Students who based their information on television were more likely to hold unfavorable stereotypes toward Arabs. However, the more favorable stereotypes were found among students who had personal contact with Arabs.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access