Implicit Nativist Attitudes, Social Desirability, and Immigration Policy Preferences


  • Benjamin R. Knoll

    1. Centre College
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    • A previous version of this article was presented at the 2010 annual meeting of the American Political Science Association. The author would like to sincerely thank Rene Rocha, Caroline Tolbert, David Redlawsk, Tracy Osborne, Mary Campbell, Christopher Federico, and several anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedback and suggestions.


While previous research on immigration attitudes among the American public has focused on factors such as economic threat, social context, and racial prejudice, fewer studies have examined the psychological determinants of immigration policy preferences. This study analyzes the results of an implicit association test (IAT) procedure that measures automatic nativist preferences for a traditional American culture versus a Latino-American culture (i.e., implicit nativist attitudes). In brief, this study demonstrates that implicit nativist attitudes are fairly common, that they are an independent predictor of immigration policy attitudes, and that they affect those who are not explicitly nativist but who still hold restrictionist policy views.