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In 2015, National Sikh Campaign launched a comprehensive research report entitled: Sikhism in the United States: What Americans Know & Need to Know that answers three major question in unprecedented detail:
- How are Sikh-Americans perceived by their fellow Americans?
- What are the messages that the broader American public finds most effective in helping them understand the Sikh faith and values?
- What are the specific communities that are particularly receptive to Sikh values?
The basic finding includes:
- Most Americans are a blank slate when it comes to Sikh Americans. Although some Americans have a negative reaction to or are uncertain when they see someone wearing a turban, the lack of knowledge provides a valuable opportunity to educate Americans about Sikh Americans and Sikh culture
- Americans are extremely receptive to learning about Sikh culture, beliefs, and people. Information and messaging about Sikhs significantly enhances warm feelings toward Sikhs and substantially increases the degree to which Americans believe Sikh Americans possess positive qualities.
- The most effective messages connect Sikhism with American values, particularly equality, and describe how Sikhs embody the quintessential American story. Americans need to understand that Sikh Americans are regular Americans—they live in the same neighborhoods, are integrated into their communities, hold American values, and are proud to be Americans.
- While messaging and information about Sikhs increases positive feelings across the board, groups that are initially warmer toward Sikhs (Millennials, Democrats, Mainline Protestants, the college-educated, women ages 50 & older, and people living on the west coast) are especially receptive. These groups respond favorably to messages that emphasize Sikhs’ shared American values
The study was conducted by Geoff Garin, the President of Peter D. Hart Research firm, which is one of the country’s leading survey research firms. Mr. Garin is one of the most prominent communication strategists of our generation and his work has shaped prominent policy debates in the United States. Geoff has worked with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, United Nations Foundation and Harvard University, among other institutions. He was also the Chief Strategic Advisor to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2008.
Co-leading the project are Jay Campbell and Corrie Hunt, both senior Vice Presidents from Hart Research. Jay managed one of the most effective political polls in America: the NBC News and Wall Street Journal poll, and has done research for CNBC, MTV, Pew Charitable Trusts and Comedy Central. Corrie Hunt, holds a Ph.D. in Psychology and has conducted research on prejudice, intergroup conflict, public opinion and social behavior.