Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Embargo Period

8-19-2014

Degree Program

Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded

2014

Month Degree Awarded

September

Advisor Name

Nilanjana

Advisor Last Name

Dasgupta

Co-advisor Name

Bernhard

Co-advisor Last Name

Leidner

Abstract

Illegal or undocumented immigration is a political hot-button issue in the United States and around the world. This study investigated social psychological factors that influence reactions toward illegal immigrants. Drawing on America’s identity as a nation of immigrants and on research showing positive effects of perspective–taking on intergroup relations, this research asks how reminders of one’s ingroup history in the U.S. and perspective-taking impact Americans emotional responses to illegal immigrants and their support for pro- and anti-immigration policies. Additionally, this research investigates whether the effects of reminders of one’s ingroup history and perspective-taking depend on people’s political orientation. Results show that the combination of thinking about one’s ingroup history and taking the perspective of illegal immigrants actually leads to more negative reactions toward illegal immigrants. Furthermore, this effect appears to be driven by conservatives as opposed to liberals. These findings raise questions about which public discourses about illegal immigration would create a consensus based on humanitarian ideals, and which discourses would increase polarization. These findings also add to the growing literature on the limitations of perspective-taking as an intervention to reduce prejudice.

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