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Information Technology and International Relations: Using On Line, Interactive Simulations to Transcend Time, Space, and Attitudes
Unformatted Document Text:  community believe has changed my perception about Arab nations.” “The writers on the web site presented a clearer picture of the motivation and ideology behind Islamic resistance.” “By reading the web site, I realized that many Muslims are concerned with needless violence. Even those who endorse violence only do so as a last possible resort, and it should not be targeted at innocent people.” “I associated extreme Muslim beliefs and beliefs held by terrorists with the whole of the Arab region…With media coverage of the Arab world, it all seems to melt together.” “Before viewing the web site I felt Muslim countries’ political behavior was irrational and warlike, based on unrealistic expectations… I now feel more sympathetic toward Muslim countries who are striving for peace but seem unwilling to make sacrifices and compromises to reach (it).” One of the students who said there was no attitude change wrote, “My negative stereotypes describe the political leaders of many Arab nations. This has nothing to do with the people of these countries who only want peace and security without being greedy and violent.” Another respondent who reported no change wrote, “While my attitudes did not change, I realized that individuals in these countries disagree with what their leaders say just like I disagree with many things our leader says. I now think of these countries as filled with individuals that want peace just like we do.” This group contained a Jewish student who reported favorable change toward Arab states. The fourteen students in group three exposed to both Muslim and Jewish moral arguments are almost evenly divided in the number who changed their views and less decisive in their new attitudes. Seven reported changed attitudes favorable toward Israel, one of which identified his religion as “other”. Eight said they changed their views toward Arab States. Why did the quantitative data suggest a possible negative change toward the predominantly Muslim Arab countries after experiencing the dialog? Several explanations are possible. First, eight of the fourteen subjects in this group indicated that they were favorable toward Israel at the beginning of the study, and three other subjects indicated that they were more suspicious of Arab countries at the start. These attitudes are also reflected in table 6. The positive feelings toward Israel are not surprising. The United States and Israel have been allies for over half a century, and popular support for Israel in the United States has been consistently strong. Confused with differing moral reasoning from both Jewish and Muslim participants about the justice of Middle East conflict, the subjects may have reverted to their original views, a phenomena suggested by Sevlius (2003) in her study of prior attitudes in the effectiveness of a persuasive message. Second, the content of the moral reasoning itself must be considered. Readers are invited to judge the quality of these arguments by visiting the web site at http://itrs.scu.edu/stover/dof or reading an article on the content of the dialog (Stover 2005). Finally, the students themselves help to explain this trend in their following qualitative comments. “Before the assignment I saw Arab countries as hostile, stubborn and reactionary. I still view their effort as divided and flawed (with a) lack of flexibility for seeking peace, but I am more sympathetic to them.” “I find it difficult to say who’s right or wrong because both are locked in a stalemate of stubbornness. Islam like most religions can be used to

Authors: Stover, William.
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community believe has changed my perception about Arab nations.” “The writers on the
web site presented a clearer picture of the motivation and ideology behind Islamic
resistance.” “By reading the web site, I realized that many Muslims are concerned with
needless violence. Even those who endorse violence only do so as a last possible resort,
and it should not be targeted at innocent people.” “I associated extreme Muslim beliefs
and beliefs held by terrorists with the whole of the Arab region…With media coverage of
the Arab world, it all seems to melt together.” “Before viewing the web site I felt Muslim
countries’ political behavior was irrational and warlike, based on unrealistic
expectations… I now feel more sympathetic toward Muslim countries who are striving
for peace but seem unwilling to make sacrifices and compromises to reach (it).” One of
the students who said there was no attitude change wrote, “My negative stereotypes
describe the political leaders of many Arab nations. This has nothing to do with the
people of these countries who only want peace and security without being greedy and
violent.” Another respondent who reported no change wrote, “While my attitudes did not
change, I realized that individuals in these countries disagree with what their leaders say
just like I disagree with many things our leader says. I now think of these countries as
filled with individuals that want peace just like we do.” This group contained a Jewish
student who reported favorable change toward Arab states.
The fourteen students in group three exposed to both Muslim and Jewish moral
arguments are almost evenly divided in the number who changed their views and less
decisive in their new attitudes. Seven reported changed attitudes favorable toward Israel,
one of which identified his religion as “other”. Eight said they changed their views
toward Arab States.
Why did the quantitative data suggest a possible negative change toward the
predominantly Muslim Arab countries after experiencing the dialog? Several
explanations are possible. First, eight of the fourteen subjects in this group indicated that
they were favorable toward Israel at the beginning of the study, and three other subjects
indicated that they were more suspicious of Arab countries at the start. These attitudes
are also reflected in table 6. The positive feelings toward Israel are not surprising. The
United States and Israel have been allies for over half a century, and popular support for
Israel in the United States has been consistently strong. Confused with differing moral
reasoning from both Jewish and Muslim participants about the justice of Middle East
conflict, the subjects may have reverted to their original views, a phenomena suggested
by Sevlius (2003) in her study of prior attitudes in the effectiveness of a persuasive
message. Second, the content of the moral reasoning itself must be considered. Readers
are invited to judge the quality of these arguments by visiting the web site at
or reading an article on the content of the dialog (Stover
2005). Finally, the students themselves help to explain this trend in their following
qualitative comments.
“Before the assignment I saw Arab countries as hostile, stubborn and reactionary. I still
view their effort as divided and flawed (with a) lack of flexibility for seeking peace, but I
am more sympathetic to them.” “I find it difficult to say who’s right or wrong because
both are locked in a stalemate of stubbornness. Islam like most religions can be used to


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