Anti-immigrant sentiment, immigration, political ideology, contact theory


In recent years, an increase in anti-immigrant sentiment has been witnessed in the United States, particularly from politically conservative groups. According to intergroup contact theory, increased contact between in-group and out-group members, especially cross-group friendships, has been found to reduce intergroup prejudice. This study analyzed nationally representative U.S.-based data (n = 1,000) from the Transatlantic Trends Survey, 2013 to examine if having immigrant friends interacted with political ideology, such that having immigrant friends weakened the association between conservative ideology and anti-immigrant sentiment. Findings revealed that immigrant friends and political ideology each had a significant but opposite main effect on anti-immigrant sentiment, but that having immigrant friends did not moderate or buffer the effects of political ideology on anti-immigrant sentiment. Thus, aligning with a conservative political ideology is associated with anti-immigrant sentiment irrespective of having immigrant friends. Strategies to increase intergroup contact and promote cross-group friendships are made and directions for future research are offered.

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