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What is an “appropriate” migrant? Impact of the adoption of meritocratic worldviews by potential newcomers on their perceived ability to integrate into a Western society


Benoît Testé, LAUREPS (CRPCC, EA 1285), département de psychologie, Université Rennes 2, Place du recteur Henri Le Moal, 35043 Rennes Cedex, France.



The acceptance of migrant populations and the definition of an “appropriate” migrant are controversial issues in many countries. The present research focuses on the ideological determinants of how newcomers are evaluated by a host population in a Western country with a strongly rooted meritocratic ideology. We carried out two studies to examine how the expression of meritocratic beliefs by a male potential migrant affects the way he is evaluated by the host population. We measured the host population's perception of the potential migrant's ability to integrate into society, his tendency to adopt the host country's culture, and the general desirability of his world vision for all newcomers. We also noted the host population's judgments of the target's agency and communality. The results showed that a potential newcomer who expresses a strong (vs. weak) belief in a just world (Study 1) or an internal (vs. external) locus of control (Study 2) is evaluated more favorably by the host population. In addition, judgments of the target's integration capacity were only mediated by his perceived agency. We discuss these results in the light of work on the meritocratic ideology and intercultural relations. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.