Prejudice toward immigrants in student and community samples

Published date10 October 2016
Date10 October 2016
AuthorEmily F. Wood,Monica K. Miller
Subject MatterHealth & social care,Criminology & forensic psychology,Aggression, conflict & peace,Sociology,Gender studies,Gender violence,Political sociology, policy & social change,Social conflicts,War/peace
Prejudice toward immigrants in student
and community samples
Emily F. Wood and Monica K. Miller
Emily F. Wood is a Doctoral
Student and Monica K. Miller is
a Professor, both at the
University of Nevada, Reno,
Nevada, USA.
Purpose The number of immigrants in the USA has increased steadily in recent decades. Two studies
investigated individual differences that relate to attitudes toward immigrants in student and community
samples. The paper aims to discuss this issue.
Design/methodology/approach US university students and a community sampler were surveyed.
Findings In both samples, higher scores on attributional complexity were associated with more positive
attitudes toward immigrants and individuals who make dispositional attributions for the causes of crime and/
or who are higher in faith in intuition tended to have more negative attitudes. Political orientation was a
significant predictor in both samples; being more liberal and identifying as a Democrat compared to a
Republican was related to more positive attitudes. Higher need for cognition scores were associated with
more positive attitudes and higher legal authoritarianism scores were associated with more negative
attitudes; however these were only significant predictors in the community sample.
Originality/value Prejudicial attitudes toward immigrants can have adverse effects on immigrants in the
realms of the legal system, workplace, healthcare, and education.
Keywords Prejudice, Immigrants, Discrimination, Attributions, Cognitive processing, Sample differences
Paper type Research paper
Because the rate of immigration has increased steadily in the past few decades (Bureau of the
Census, 2012), immigrant related issues are salient in the media and in political and social
arenas. Attitudes toward immigrants vary drastically. Some people (51 percent in a survey
conducted by Pew Research Center, 2015) believe that immigrants strengthen the country
(Hamilton et al., 2010). Others (41 percent in the same survey), view immigrants as burdens
(Hamilton et al., 2010).
Understanding at titudes toward immi grants is importan t because attitude s are a key
component in the form ation of prejudice, which can lead to dis crimination (Qui llan, 2006). For
example, jurors who hold negative attitudes toward immigrants might show prejudice toward
immigrant defendants (Holmberg and Kyvsgaard, 2003), immigrants might experience
employment discrimination (Chao and Nguyen, 2005; Derous et al., 2009; Soylu and
Buchanan, 2013), or immigrants might be the target of aggression and violence (Anderson,
2002). Perceived p rejudice and disc rimination is rela ted to negative hea lth outcomes such a s
higher stress and poor mental and physical health. (Araújo and Borrell, 2006; Karlsen and
Nazroo, 2002; Williams et al., 2003). As individual di fferences are factor s that substantia lly
explain variatio n in prejudice (Hodso n and Dhont, 2015), de termining individ ual difference
variables that rel ate to attitudes t oward immigrant s is important for un derstanding an d
combatting negat ive attitudes and p rejudice.
Past research has examined broad reasons for negative attitudes (e.g. labor market competition)
and how basic demographic variables relate to attitudes (Hainmueller and Hopkins, 2014;
Received 5 March 2016
Revised 24 April 2016
18 June 2016
28 June 2016
Accepted 29 June 2016
VOL. 8 NO. 4 2016, pp.290-300, © Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 1759-6599 DOI 10.1108/JACPR-03-2016-0217

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