Political Behavior

, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 143–163 | Cite as

Decoding Prejudice Toward Hispanics: Group Cues and Public Reactions to Threatening Immigrant Behavior

  • Todd K. Hartman
  • Benjamin J. Newman
  • C. Scott Bell
Original Paper

Abstract

Consistent with theories of modern racism, we argue that white, non-Hispanic Americans have adopted a “coded,” race-neutral means of expressing prejudice toward Hispanic immigrants by citing specific behaviors that are deemed inappropriate—either because they are illegal or threatening in an economic or cultural manner. We present data from a series of nationally representative, survey-embedded experiments to tease out the distinct role that anti-Hispanic prejudice plays in shaping public opinion on immigration. Our results show that white Americans take significantly greater offense to transgressions such as being in the country illegally, “working under the table,” and rejecting symbols of American identity, when the perpetrating immigrant is Hispanic rather than White (or unspecified). In addition, we demonstrate that these ethnicity-based group differences in public reactions shape support for restrictive immigration policies. The findings from this article belie the claim of non-prejudice and race-neutrality avowed by many opponents of immigration.

Keywords

Immigration Prejudice Hispanic Experiment 

References

  1. Allport, G. W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Reading: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  2. Beck, R. (1996). The case against immigration: The moral, economic, social, and environmental reasons for reducing immigration back to traditional levels. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.Google Scholar
  3. Brader, T., Valentino, N. A., & Suhay, E. (2008). What triggers public opposition to immigration? Anxiety, group cues, and immigration threat. American Journal of Political Science, 52, 959–978.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brown, R. (2010). Prejudice: Its social psychology (2nd ed.). Maiden: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  5. Burns, P., & Gimpel, J. G. (2000). Economic insecurity, prejudicial stereotypes, and public opinion on immigration policy. Political Science Quarterly, 1152, 201–225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chavez, L. R. (2001). Covering immigration: Popular images and the politics of the nation. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  7. Chavez, L. R. (2008). The Latino threat: Constructing immigrants, citizens, and the nation. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Chomsky, A. (2007). They take our jobs! And twenty other myths about immigration. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  9. Citrin, J., Green, D. P., Muste, C., & Wong, C. (1997). Public opinion toward immigration reform: The role of economic motivations. Journal of Politics, 59, 858–881.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Citrin, J., Reingold, B., & Green, D. P. (1990a). American identity and the politics of ethnic change. Journal of Politics, 52, 1124–1154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Citrin, J., Reingold, B., Walters, E., & Green, D. P. (1990b). The ‘Official English’ movement and the symbolic politics of language in the United States. Western Political Quarterly, 43, 535–559.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cohen, E. (2001). Politics of globalization in the United States. Washington: Georgetown University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Cornelius, W. A., & Rosenblum, M. R. (2005). Immigration and politics. Annual Review of Political Science, 8, 99–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Crandall, C. S., Eshleman, A., & O’Brien, L. (2002). Social norms and the expression of prejudice: The struggle for internalization. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 359–378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Devine, P. G., Ashby Plant, E., Amodio, D. M., Harmon-Jones, E., & Vance, S. L. (2002). The regulation of explicit and implicit race bias: The role of motivations to respond without prejudice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82(5), 835–848.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dockterman, D. (2011). Country of origin profiles. Pew Hispanic Center report. Retrieved from http://www.pewhispanic.org/2011/05/26/country-of-origin-profiles/. Accessed 15 June 2012.
  17. Gaertner, S. L., & Dovidio, J. F. (1986). The aversive form of racism. In J. F. Dovidio & S. L. Gaertner (Eds.), Prejudice, discrimination, and racism (pp. 61–89). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  18. Gaines, B. J., Kuklinski, J. H., & Quirk, P. J. (2007). The logic of the survey experiment reexamined. Political Analysis, 15, 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gilens, M. (1999). Why Americans hate welfare: Race, media, and the politics of antipoverty policy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hainmueller, J., & Hiscox, M. J. (2010). Attitudes toward highly skilled and low-skilled immigration: Evidence from a survey experiment. American Political Science Review, 104, 61–84.Google Scholar
  21. Hood, M. V, I. I. I., & Morris, I. L. (1997). Amigo o enemigo? Context, attitudes, and anglo public opinion toward immigration. Social Science Quarterly, 78, 7813–7819.Google Scholar
  22. Huntington, S. P. (2004). Who are we. The challenges to America’s national identity. New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  23. Hurwitz, J., & Peffley, M. (2005). Playing the race card in the post-Willie Horton era: The impact of racialized code words on support for punitive crime policy. Public Opinion Quarterly, 69, 99–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Imai, K., Keele, L., Tingley, D., & Yamamoto, T. (2011). Unpacking the black box of causality: Learning about causal mechanisms from experimental and observational studies. American Political Science Review, 105, 765–789.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kinder, D. R., & Kam, C. D. (2010). Us against them: Ethnocentric foundations of American opinion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  26. Kinder, D. R., & Sanders, L. M. (1996). Divided by color: Racial politics and democratic ideals. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  27. Kinder, D. R., & Sears, D. O. (1981). Prejudice and politics: Symbolic racism versus racial threats to the good life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 403, 414–431.Google Scholar
  28. McClosky, H., & Zaller, J. (1984). The American ethos: Public attitudes toward capitalism and democracy. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  29. McConahay, J. B. (1986). Modern racism, ambivalence, and the modern racism scale. In J. F. Dovidio & S. L. Gaertner (Eds.), Prejudice, discrimination, and racism (pp. 91–125). Orlando: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  30. Mendelberg, T. (2001). The race card: Campaign strategy, implicit messages, and the norm of equality. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Múthen, B. (2011). Applications of causally defined direct and indirect effects in mediation analysis using SEM in Mplus. Retrieved from http://www.statmodel.com/download/causalmediation.pdf.
  32. Newman, B. J., Hartman, T. K., & Taber, C. S. (2012). Foreign language exposure, cultural threat, and opposition to immigration. Political Psychology, 33, 635–657.Google Scholar
  33. Passel, J. S. (2006). The size and characteristics of the unauthorized migrant population in the U.S. Pew Hispanic Center Research Report.Google Scholar
  34. Passel, J. S., & Cohn, D. (2011). Unauthorized immigrant population: National and state trends, 2010. Washington: Pew Hispanic Center.Google Scholar
  35. Paxton, Pamela, & Mughan, Anthony. (2006). What’s to fear from immigrants? Creating an assimilationist threat scale. Political Psychology, 74, 549–568. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Perez, E. O. (2010). Explicit evidence on the import of implicit attitudes: The IAT and immigration policy judgments. Political Behavior, 32, 517–545.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Pettigrew, T. F., & Meertens, Roel W. (1995). Subtle and blatant prejudice in Western Europe. European Journal of Social Psychology, 25, 57–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Piston, S. (2010). How explicit racial prejudice hurt Obama in the 2008 election. Political Behavior, 32(4), 431–451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Schatz, R. T., & Lavine, H. (2007). Waving the flag: National symbolism, social identity, and political engagement. Political Psychology, 28, 329–355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Scheve, K. F., & Slaughter, M. J. (2001). Labor market competition and individual preferences over immigration policy. The Review of Economics and Statistics, 83, 133–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Sears, D. O. (1988). Symbolic racism. In P. A. Katz & D. A. Taylor (Eds.), Eliminating racism: Profiles in controversy (pp. 53–84). New York: Plenum Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sears, D. O., & Kinder, D. R. (1985). Whites’ opposition to busing: On conceptualizing and operationalizing group conflict. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 48, 1141–1147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Sides, J., & Citrin, J. (2007). European opinion about immigration: The role of identities, interests, and information. British Journal of Political Science, 37, 477–504.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Simon, R. J., & Alexander, S. H. (1993). The ambivalent welcome: Print media, public opinion and immigration. Westport: Praeger.Google Scholar
  45. Sniderman, P. M., & Carmines, E. G. (1997). Reaching beyond race. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Sniderman, P. M., Hagendoorn, L., & Prior, M. (2004). Predisposing factors and situational triggers: Exclusionary reactions to immigrant minorities. American Political Science Review, 98, 35–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Stangor, C. (2009). The study of stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination within social psychology: A quick history of theory and research. In T. D. Nelson (Ed.), Handbook of prejudice, stereoptying, and discrimination (pp. 1–22). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  48. Stephan, W. G., Ybarra, O., & Morrison, K. R. (2009). Intergroup threat theory. In T. D. Nelson (Ed.), Handbook of prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination (pp. 43–59). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  49. Sullivan, J., Piereon, J., & Marcus, G. E. (1982). Political tolerance and American democracy. Chicago: Chicago University Press.Google Scholar
  50. Tingley, D., Yamamoto, T., Keele, L., & Imai, K. (n.d.). mediation: R package for causal mediation analysis. Retrieved from http://cran.r-project.org/web/packages/mediation/vignettes/mediation.pdf.
  51. Valentino, N. A., Brader, T., & Jardina, A. E. (2013). Immigration opposition among U.S. whites: General ethnocentrism or media priming of attitudes about Latinos? Political Psychology, 34, 149–166.Google Scholar
  52. Valentino, N. A., Hutchings, V. L., & White, I. K. (2002). Cues that matter: How political ads prime racial attitudes during campaigns. American Political Science Review, 96, 75–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Todd K. Hartman
    • 1
  • Benjamin J. Newman
    • 2
  • C. Scott Bell
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Government and Justice StudiesAppalachian State UniversityBooneUSA
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of ConnecticutStamfordUSA
  3. 3.Department of Political ScienceFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA

Personalised recommendations