Political Behavior

, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 635–657 | Cite as

Are Group Cues Necessary? How Anger Makes Ethnocentrism Among Whites a Stronger Predictor of Racial and Immigration Policy Opinions

  • Antoine J. BanksEmail author
Original Paper


Research shows that group conflict sets ethnocentric thinking into motion. However, when group threat is not salient, can ethnocentrism still influence people’s political decision-making? In this paper, I argue that anger, unrelated to racial and ethnic groups, can activate the attitudes of ethnocentric whites and those that score low in ethnocentrism thereby causing these attitudes to be a stronger predictor of racial and immigration policy opinions. Using an adult national experiment over two waves, I induced several emotions to elicit anger, fear, or relaxation (unrelated to racial or ethnic groups). The experimental findings show that anger increases opposition to racial and immigration policies among whites that score high in ethnocentrism and enhances support for these policies among those that score low in ethnocentrism. Using data from the American National Election Study cumulative file, I find a similar non-racial/ethnic anger effect. The survey findings also demonstrate that non-racial/ethnic fear increases opposition to immigration among whites that don’t have strong out-group attitudes.


Ethnocentrism Emotions Racial and immigration policy opinions 



The author thanks Heather Hicks, Ho Youn Koh, Sanata Sy-Sahande, and Kerry Jones for excellent research assistance, and Eric Groenendyk, Cindy Kam, Jennifer Merolla, James Gimpel, the attendees at the American Politics Colloquium at Syracuse University and the Symposium on Politics of Immigration, Race, and Ethnicity (SPIRE) at Rutgers University for helpful feedback. The data and replication code can be found at Political Behavior’s Dataverse webpage.

Supplementary material

11109_2016_9330_MOESM1_ESM.docx (617 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 616 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Government and Politics DepartmentUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

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