Date of Award

Fall 2022

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Psychology, PhD


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

Sofia Stathi

Terms of Use & License Information

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Rights Information

© 2022 Alicia S Davis


Imagined contact, Immigrant attitudes, Intergroup attitudes, Social identity theory, Social identity threat

Subject Categories

Psychology | Social Psychology


As immigration rises, frequent and positive intergroup interactions with immigrants are increasingly necessary to ensure smooth and harmonious societal and community functioning. However, immigrants are often perceived to threaten the host population’s distinctive national group identity, motivating negative reactions including dehumanization, ethnocentrism, and a shift toward extremism, reducing opportunities for positive intergroup interaction. Researchers have shown that intergroup contact has been effective in improving outgroup attitudes by reducing intergroup anxiety. However, with increasing polarization, more recent research has indicated that contact interventions may not be effective in all cases. Given research identifying social identity-based distinctiveness threat as a driver of negative attitudes to immigrants, this threat was targeted as a way to improve contact effects. In a two-study series, distinctiveness threat was measured (Study 1; N = 231) and manipulated (Study 2; N = 272) to test its moderating role in the relationship between imagined contact and attitudes toward immigrants. Results showed that distinctiveness threat, when measured, was predictive of attitudes where imagined contact was not (Study 1), and that the effect of imagined contact was significant only when distinctiveness threat was reduced (Study 2). This research suggests a potential intervention that can prepare host communities to accept and integrate immigrants.