Stranger in a strange land : a study of the effect of foreignness on perceptions of Latinos




Martinez, Mercedes Shannon

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September 11th 2001 led to an increase in the intensity of the already existing discourses surrounding what it means to be an American, with a particular focus on the Southern border of the United States and Mexican immigration as a perceived threat to national security. This study seeks to address the how prejudice towards undocumented Mexican immigrants generalizes to Mexican Americans. This relationship was theorized by Chavez (2008), and is what he calls the Latino threat narrative. Experimental methods will be used to measure how perceptions of Latinos differ as a function of foreignness using a 2 (positive vs. negative scenario) x 4 (Mexican American, undocumented immigrant, Latino and Anglo) X 2 (Group Process: SDO or RWA) between-subjects design. Participants were asked to read scenarios that describes a man (either Mexican American, an undocumented Mexican immigrant, a Latino or White) accidently hitting another car while parking and either leaving a note or not. The results demonstrate that when the immigration status of the man described is unknown, and he does not leave a note, participants high in Social Dominance Orientation attitudes are more likely to identify them as an undocumented Mexican immigrant. The findings of this study contribute to the literature of prejudice through further exploring the mechanisms of prejudice towards immigrant populations.



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