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Narratives shape cognitive representations of immigrants and immigration-policy preferences

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  • UserAssociate Professor Mina Cikara (Harvard University)
  • ClockWednesday 27 January 2021, 16:00-17:00
  • Housevia zoom .

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Cecilie Steenbuch Traberg.

The news and social media are full of characterizations of immigrants, many of which paint them as dangerous. In this research, we asked whether these characterizations impact the beliefs that individuals hold about immigrants and immigration in general. To find out, we engaged a large sample of people residing in the United States and had them read short narratives about fictitious characters who committed minor criminal transgressions, achieved educational or professional goals, or struggled to make ends meet. We found that criminal narratives reinforced racialized immigrant representations. That is, after reading them, participants were more likely to perceive immigrants as white or non-white, regardless of their national origin. In contrast, after reading achievement narratives, participants were more likely to perceive immigrants as more similar to one another. Achievement narratives also increased participants’ support for immigration. These findings speak to the power of stories to influence how people think about immigrants, and how we might use them to attenuate anti-immigrant discrimination. More broadly, our findings indicate that perceptions of immigrants are inherently tied to other social hierarchies, in this case race.

Zoom link: https://www.psychol.cam.ac.uk/study/grads/grads/spss-joining-details.

This talk is part of the Social Psychology Seminar Series (SPSS) series.

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