The Psychological Ambiguity of Immigration and Its Implications for Promoting Immigration Policy



Immigration can evoke two recurring and contradictory social psychology situations: group inclusion and group threat. This ambiguity implies that immigration can bring out either people's communal, egalitarian natures, or their prejudicial, oppressive natures. Further, it means that immigration policies can be framed in ways that appeal to one psychological orientation or the other. Using this perspective, we examined Californians' attitudes toward a fictitious immigration policy. The policy was framed in one of two ways, and participants' values concerning group equality versus group dominance were measured. Results showed that framing the policy as a way of maintaining dominance over immigrants appealed to those high in social dominance orientation, whereas framing the policy as a way of increasing equality between immigrants and members of the receiving society appealed to those low on social dominance orientation. The practical political aspects of promoting immigration policy are discussed.