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Intergroup Perceptions and Attitudes toward Immigrants in a Culturally Plural Society


Chan-Hoong Leong, School of Arts/Social Sciences, SIM University, 535A Clementi Road, Singapore 599490. Email:


The research examined perceptions of Chinese immigrants held by New Zealanders of European and Maori descent. The study (N = 318) adopted an intergroup perspective to test a predictive model of attitudes toward immigrants. It was based on a nation-wide survey with prospective respondents randomly selected from the New Zealand Electoral rolls. Findings revealed that Maori differed from their European counterparts in predictable ways, reporting more relative deprivation and greater perceived threat, and holding more negative outgroup attitudes. Less contact and greater perceived threat predicted more negative attitudes toward immigrants; in addition, when intergroup boundaries were permeable, the link between perceived threat and negative attitudes was stronger in Maori than New Zealand Europeans. While intergroup relations are traditionally analysed in a dual group formation involving a privileged “dominant” ingroup and disadvantaged “minority” immigrant outgroup, the current research suggests the need to advance beyond this dichotomy to a more inclusive approach and to consider the interface between the historical and political milieux in specific national contexts.