Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

Easing the Heavy Hand: Humanitarian Concern, Empathy, and Opinion on Immigration

Abstract

The bulk of the public opinion research on immigration identifies the factors leading to opposition to immigration. In contrast, we focus on a previously unexplored factor yielding support for immigration: humanitarianism. Relying upon secondary analysis of national public opinion survey data and an original survey experiment, we demonstrate that humanitarian concern significantly decreases support for restrictive immigration policy. Results from our survey experiment demonstrate that in an information environment evoking both threat and countervailing humanitarian concern regarding immigration, the latter can and does override the former. Last, our results point to the importance of individual differences in empathy in moderating the effects of both threat and humanitarian inducements.

Copyright
Footnotes
Hide All

Newman: Department of Political Science, University of Connecticut; Hartman: Department of Government & Justice Studies, Appalachian State University; Lown and Feldman: Department of Political Science, Stony Brook University (emails benj.newman@uconn.edu, hartmantk@appstate.edu, patrick.lown@stonybrook.edu, stanley.feldman@stonybrook.edu). An online appendix with supplementary materials is available at http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1017/S0007123413000410.

Footnotes
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Simon Baron-Cohen Sally Wheelwright . 2004. The Empathy Quotient: An Investigation of Adults with Asperger Syndrome or High Functioning Autism, and Normal Sex Differences. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 34:163175.

C. Daniel Batson , Johee Chang , Ryan Orr Jennifer Rowland . 2002. Empathy, Attitudes, and Action: Can Feeling for a Member of a Stigmatized Group Motivate One to Help the Group? Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin 28:16561666.

Ted Brader , Nicholas A. Valentino Elizabeth Suhay . 2008. What Triggers Public Opposition to Immigration? Anxiety, Group Cues, and Immigration Threat. American Journal of Political Science 52:959978.

Dennis Chong James N. Druckman . 2007. Framing Public Opinion in Competitive Democracies. American Political Science Review 101:637655.

Jack Citrin , Beth Reingold Donald P. Green . 1990. American Identity and the Politics of Ethnic Change. Journal of Politics 52:11241154.

Jack. Citrin , Donald P. Green , Christopher Muste Cara Wong . 1997. Public Opinion Toward Immigration Reform: The Role of Economic Motivations. Journal of Politics 59:858881.

Wayne A. Cornelius Marc R. Rosenblum . 2005. Immigration and Politics. Annual Review of Political Science 8:99119.

Rafaela Dancygier Elizabeth N. Saunders . 2006. A New Electorate? Comparing Preferences and Partisanship between Immigrants and Natives. American Journal of Political Science 50 (4):962981.

Jeffrey C. Dixon Michael S. Rosenbaum . 2004. Nice to Know You? Testing Contact, Cultural, and Group Threat Theories of Anti-Black and Anti-Hispanic Stereotypes. Social Science Quarterly 85:257280.

R Dymond . 1949. A Scale for the Measurement of Empathic Ability. Journal of Consulting Psychology 13:127133.

Stanley Feldman John Zaller . 1992. The Political Culture of Ambivalence: Ideological Responses to the Welfare State. American Journal of Political Science 36:268307.

Stanley Feldman Marco R. Steenbergen . 2001. The Humanitarian Foundation of Public Support for Social Welfare. American Journal of Political Science 45:658677.

Serge Guimond , Pierre De Oliveira , Rodolphe Kamiesjki Jim Sidanius . 2010. The Trouble with Assimilation: Social Dominance and the Emergence of Hostility Against Immigrants. International Journal of Intercultural Relations 34:642650.

Jeannie Haubert Elizabeth Fussell . 2006. Explaining Pro-Immigrant Sentiment in the US: Social Class, Cosmopolitanism, and Perceptions of Immigrants. International Migration Review 40:489507.

Marc J. Hetherington Jonathan D. Weiler . 2009. Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Leonie Huddy David O. Sears . 1995. Opposition to Bilingual Education: Prejudice or the Defense of Realistic Interests? Social Psychology Quarterly 58 (2):133143.

Leonie Huddy , Jeffrey M. Jones Richard E. Chard . 2001. Compassionate Politics: Support for Old-Age Programs among the Non-Elderly. Political Psychology 22 (3):443471.

Gary King , Michael Tomz Jason Wittenberg . 2000. Making the Most of Statistical Analyses: Improving Interpretation and Presentation. American Journal of Political Science 44 (2): 347361.

Ariel Malka , Christopher J. Soto , Adam B. Cohen Dale T. Miller . 2011. Religiosity and Social Welfare: Competing Influences of Cultural Conservatism and Prosocial Value Orientation. Journal of Personality 79 (4):763792.

Herbert McCloskey John Zaller . 1984. The American Ethos: Public Attitudes Toward Democracy and Capitalism. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Albert Mehrabian Norman Epstein . 1972. A Measure of Emotional Empathy. Journal of Personality 40:525543.

Benjamin J. Newman , Todd K. Hartman Charles S. Taber . 2012. Foreign Language Exposure, Cultural Threat, and Opposition to Immigration. Political Psychology 33 (5):635657.

Tatishe M Nteta . 2013. United We Stand? African Americans, Self Interest, and Immigration Reform. American Politics Research 41 (1):147172.

Sabrina J. Pagano Yuen J. Huo . 2007. The Role of Moral Emotions in Predicting Support for Political Actions in Post-War Iraq. Political Psychology 28:227255.

Michael B. Peterson , Rune Slothuus , Rune Stubager Lisa Togeby . 2010. Deservingness Versus Values in Public Opinion on Welfare: The Automaticity of the Deservingness Heuristic. European Journal of Political Research 50:2452.

Lincoln Quillian . 1995. Prejudice as a Response to Perceived Group Threat: Population Composition and Anti-Immigrant and Racial Prejudice in Europe. American Sociological Review 60:586611.

Rene R. Rocha Rodolfo Espino . 2009. Racial Threat, Residential Segregation, and the Policy Attitudes of Anglos. Political Research Quarterly 62:415426.

Robert M. Stein , Stephanie Shirley Post Allison L. Rinden . 2000. Reconciling Context and Contact Effects on Racial Attitudes. Political Research Quarterly 53:285303.

Walter G. Stephan , C. Lausanne Renfro , Victoria M. Esses , Cookie White Stephan Tim Martin . 2005. The Effects of Feeling Threatened on Attitudes toward Immigrants. International Journal of Intercultural Relations 29:119.

Lotte Thomsen , Eva G.T. Green Jim Sidanius . 2008. We Will Hunt Them Down: How Social Dominance and Right-Wing Authoritarianism Fuel Ethnic Persecution of Immigrants in Fundamentally Different Ways. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 44:14551464.

Colette Van Laar , Shana Levin , Stacey Sinclair Jim Sidanius . 2005. The Effect of University Roommate Contact on Ethnic Attitudes and Behavior. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 41:329345.

Akio Wakabayashi , Simon Baron-Cohen , Sally Wheelwright , Nigel Goldenfeld , Joe Delaney , Debra Fine , Richard Smith Leonora Weil . 2006. Development of Short Forms of the Empathy Quotient (EQ-Short) and the Systemizing Quotient (SQ-Short). Personality and Individual Differences 41:929940.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

British Journal of Political Science
  • ISSN: 0007-1234
  • EISSN: 1469-2112
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-of-political-science
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×
Type Description Title
UNKNOWN
Supplementary Materials

Newman et al. Supplementary Material
Data

 Unknown (417 bytes)
417 bytes
UNKNOWN
Supplementary Materials

Newman et al. Supplementary Material
Supplementary Material

 Unknown (359 KB)
359 KB
UNKNOWN
Supplementary Materials

Newman et al. Supplementary Material
Data

 Unknown (225 bytes)
225 bytes
UNKNOWN
Supplementary Materials

Newman et al. Supplementary Material
Supplementary Material

 Unknown (6.9 MB)
6.9 MB
UNKNOWN
Supplementary Materials

Newman et al. Supplementary Material
Supplementary Material

 Unknown (145 KB)
145 KB
UNKNOWN
Supplementary Materials

Newman et al. Supplementary Material
Data

 Unknown (333 bytes)
333 bytes
UNKNOWN
Supplementary Materials

Newman et al. Supplementary Material
Supplementary Material

 Unknown (2.1 MB)
2.1 MB
UNKNOWN
Supplementary Materials

Newman et al. Supplementary Material
Data

 Unknown (204 bytes)
204 bytes
UNKNOWN
Supplementary Materials

Newman et al. Supplementary Material
Appendix

 Unknown (104 KB)
104 KB