Do Sociotropic Concerns Mask Ethnic Biases? Experimental Evidence on the Sources of Public Opposition to Immigration
38 Pages Posted: 12 Nov 2018
Date Written: November 12, 2018
Civic ("sociotropic") concerns are a main source of public opposition to immigration. Yet whether such concerns stem from ethnic biases remains contested because research consistently focuses on native attitudes toward outgroup members. This lack of variation in intergroup relations limits causal inferences regarding the sources of sociotropic concerns. The present experiment asks both natives and immigrants of various origins to evaluate randomly assigned profiles of visa applicants to the Netherlands. Crucially, the experiment assigns an "ingroup treatment"--assessing applications of individuals from the same ethno-cultural background as the respondent. The findings show that sociotropic concerns are shared by both natives and immigrants and are not biased towards co-ethnic immigrants. This suggests that sociotropic opposition to immigration reflects a form of civic nationalism, rather than nativism or ethnocentric dispositions.
Keywords: opposition to immigration, attitudes toward immigrants, sociotropic mechanism, survey experiment, ethnic prejudice, ethnocentrism
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