The Good, the Bad and the Hijab: A Study of Implicit Associations Made by Practicing Muslims in Their Native Muslim Country

Mercedes Sheen, Hajar Yekani, Timothy R. Jordan

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Recent research indicates that wearing the hijab reduces the attractiveness of female faces perceived by practicing Muslim men and women in their native Muslim country (the United Arab Emirates). The purpose of the current research was to develop this finding to investigate whether other aspects of person perception are also affected when women wear the hijab in this Muslim country. Of particular relevance is that changes in physical attractiveness often affect the personal qualities assigned to individuals. Accordingly, we sought to determine whether such effects occur when the physical attractiveness of women is altered by wearing the hijab. To do this, we used an Implicit Association Test (IAT) to investigate how native Muslim participants in the UAE associated pleasant and unpleasant connotations with images of women either wearing the hijab or with their heads uncovered. As in previous research with native Muslim participants, female faces were again perceived as significantly less attractive when the hijab was worn. However, the accompanying IAT findings showed that these less attractive hijab-wearing images were associated more with pleasant connotations than were the matched uncovered images. These findings provide fresh insight into the effects of the hijab on perceptions of Muslim women in a Muslim country and provide support for the view that cultural clothing can influence person perception beyond physical attractiveness alone.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2886-2903
Number of pages18
JournalPsychological Reports
Issue number6
Early online date19 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • Person perception
  • culture
  • hijab
  • implicit association test
  • physical attractiveness stereotype

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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