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Cultur Divers Ethnic Minor Psychol. 2013 Jul;19(3):332-41. doi: 10.1037/a0030812. Epub 2012 Nov 12.

Attitudes toward unauthorized immigrants, authorized immigrants, and refugees.

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San Diego State University/University of California San Diego Cancer Center Comprehensive Partnership, San Diego, CA 92120-4913, USA.


Rates of human migration are steadily rising and have resulted in significant sociopolitical debates over how to best respond to increasing cultural diversity and changing migration patterns. Research on prejudicial attitudes toward immigrants has focused on the attitudes and beliefs that individuals in the receiving country hold about immigrants. The current study enhances this literature by examining how young adults view authorized and unauthorized immigrants and refugees. Using a between-groups design of 191 undergraduates, we found that participants consistently reported more prejudicial attitudes, greater perceived realistic threats, and greater intergroup anxiety when responding to questions about unauthorized compared with authorized immigrants. Additionally, there were differences in attitudes depending on participants' generational status, with older-generation participants reporting greater perceived realistic and symbolic threat, prejudice, and anxiety than newer-generation students. In some instances, these effects were moderated by participant race/ethnicity and whether they were evaluating authorized or unauthorized immigrants. Lastly, perceived realistic threat, symbolic threat, and intergroup anxiety were significant predictors of prejudicial attitudes. Overall, participants reported positive attitudes toward refugees and resettlement programs in the United States. These findings have implications for future research and interventions focused on immigration and prejudice toward migrant groups.

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