2008 Student Research Conference:
21st Annual Student Research Conference

An Investigation of Privilege and Threat: Immigration in America
Sara B. Perrachione* and Kristel Givogue
Dr. Judith M. Misale, Faculty Mentor

Recently immigrants have been cast negatively in Americans' discussions of them, frequently in ways suggesting immigrants represent a threat to citizens' rights and privileges. In this study we evaluated participants' awareness of privilege differences and investigated the specific threats perceived from immigrants. In a between-subjects design, participants responded to a battery of survey items assessing these two variables. They were instructed to assume one of four perspectives while responding: their own, the average American's (the "citizen" groups), a documented immigrant, or an undocumented immigrant (the "immigrant" groups). The results showed the citizen groups reported significantly more privilege than the immigrant groups, denoting an awareness of the latter's diminished status. However, the citizens failed to discriminate between the legal and illegal immigrants in either privilege or as agents of threat. Mechanisms of threat spanned social, economic, and political domains. Effects of participants' political affiliation, an additional variable assessed, were also informative.

Keywords: immigrants, America, privilege

Topic(s):Psychology

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 26-3
Location: VH 1232
Time: 10:15

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