Date of Award

Spring 2022

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Psychology, PhD

Program

School of Social Science, Politics, and Evaluation

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Michael A. Hogg

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

William D. Crano

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Jason T. Siegel

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Kimberly Rios

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2022 Jinghui Zhang

Abstract

Immigration control is an issue that figures prominently in public policy discussions and election campaigns throughout the world. Immigrants can be perceived as posing both realistic and symbolic threats to the host society. During the current global pandemic, these threats are amplified. This research investigated how attitudes towards immigrants were likely to be more negative when the impact of the pandemic was made salient. Based on intergroup threat theory (Rios et al., 2018) and uncertainty identity theory (Hogg, 2021a), two empirical studies investigated the effect of realistic and symbolic threats from the COVID-19 pandemic on people’s attitudes towards immigrants. Study 1 (N =303) tested if priming pandemic induced symbolic threats increased social identity uncertainty and found that pandemic-related symbolic but not realistic threats increased social identity uncertainty. Study 2 (N =363) again primed the two types of threat induced by the pandemic, measured their effects on attitudes towards immigrants, and examined if the effects could be explained by social identity uncertainty and collective angst. Results showed that people who perceived more COVID-19 related symbolic threat than COVID-19 related realistic threat experienced more COVID-19 related national identity uncertainty and collective angst, which predicted less positive attitudes towards immigrants. People who perceived more COVID-19 related realistic threat than COVID-19 related symbolic threat experienced less COVID-19 specific national identity uncertainty and collective angst, which predicted their more positive attitudes towards immigrants.

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