The role of social categorization and identity threat in the perception of migrants



This paper investigates how the categorization of migrant workers shapes their reception. In an experiment with Northern Irish Protestants we manipulated the representation of Poland to make the Catholicism of Polish migrants either more, or less, salient. Furthermore, judgements of Polish migrants were obtained under conditions designed to encourage participants to believe that sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland was either resolved, or still a strong feature of the present social landscape. Overall, results showed that when Poland's Catholicism was salient, participants were less welcoming of Polish migrants. Furthermore, this effect was mediated by increases in the level of symbolic threat participants believed the migrants posed to participants' (Protestant) community identity. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.