Skip to main content

A Research Note: The Differential Impact of Threats on Ethnic Prejudice Toward Three Minority Groups in Britain*

  • Eline A. de Rooij, Matthew J. Goodwin and Mark Pickup

In this research note we replicate, update and expand innovative research by Sniderman et al. conducted in the Netherlands in the late 1990s, and ask whether the relative primacy of cultural compared with economic and safety threats in explaining ethnic prejudice remains true under markedly different national, economic and political contexts. Using two national British surveys conducted in 2011 and 2016, we examine the impact of threat on hostility toward three minority groups. Our results confirm the primacy of cultural threat as the strongest and most consistent predictor of hostility, while demonstrating the more context-specific effects of safety and economic concerns, with safety threats playing an overall more prominent role and increased economic concerns being related to less hostility post-Brexit.

Hide All

Eline A. de Rooij, Assistant Professor ( and Mark Pickup, Associate Professor (, Department of Political Science, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6. Matthew J. Goodwin, Professor, School of Politics and International Relations, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NZ ( Financial support for this research was provided by the Integrating Global Society Group and the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Canada. The authors are also grateful to Joe Twyman, Laurence Janta-Lipinksi and Adam McDonnell at YouGov for their assistance with the survey data, and to the anonymous reviewers for their helpful feedback. Replication data, code, and any additional materials required to replicate all analyses in this article are available on the Political Science Research and Methods (PSRM) Dataverse within the Harvard Dataverse Network at To view supplementary material for this article, please visit

Hide All
Adida, Claire L., Laitin, David D., and Valfort, Marie-Anne. 2016. Why Muslim Integration Fails in Christian-Heritage Societies. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Ford, R. 2008. ‘Is Racial Prejudice Declining in Britain?’. British Journal of Sociology 59(4):609636.
Freeman, Gary P., Givens, Terri I., and Leal, David L.. 2009. ‘Introduction: Terrorism and the Changing Politics of Immigration’. In Terri I. Givens, Gary P. Freeman and David L. Leal (eds), Immigration Policy and Security: U.S., European, and Commonwealth Perspectives, 110. New York: Routledge.
Goldstein, Judith L., and Peters, Margaret E.. 2014. ‘Nativism or Economic Threat: Attitudes Toward Immigrants During the Great Recession’. International Interactions 40(3):376401.
Goodwin, Matthew J., and Heath, Oliver. 2016. ‘The 2016 Referendum, Brexit and the Left Behind: An Aggregate-Level Analysis of the Result’. Political Quarterly 87(3):323332.
Hainmueller, Jens, and Hopkins, Daniel J.. 2015. ‘The Hidden American Immigration Consensus: A Conjoint Analysis of Attitudes Toward Immigrants’. American Journal of Political Science 59(3):529548.
Hjorth, Frederik 2016. ‘Who Benefits? Welfare Chauvinism and National Stereotypes’. European Union Politics 17(1):324.
Ipsos-MORI. 2011. ‘Issues Index’. Available at, accessed 9 November 2016.
Kierzenkowski, Rafal, Pain, Nigel, Rusticelli, Elena, and Zwart, Sanne. 2016. ‘The Economic Consequences of Brexit: A Taxing Decision’. OECD Economic Policy Papers No. 16. OECD Publishing, Paris. Available at, accessed 9 November 2016.
Lucassen, Geertje, and Lubbers, Marcel. 2012. ‘Who Fears What? Explaining Far Right-Wing Preference in Europe by Distinguishing Perceived Cultural and Economic Ethnic Threats’. Comparative Political Studies 45(5):547574.
Malhotra, Neil, Margalit, Yotam, and Hyunjung Mo, Cecilia. 2013. ‘Economic Explanations for Opposition to Immigration: Distinguishing Between Prevalence and Conditional Impact’. American Journal of Political Science 57(2):391410.
McLaren, Lauren M., and Johnson, Mark. 2007. ‘Resources, Group Conflict and Symbols: Explaining Anti-Immigrant Hostility in Britain’. Political Studies 55(4):709732.
Messina, Anthony M. 2014. ‘Review Article: Securitizing Immigration in the Age of Terror’. World Politics 66(3):530559.
Newman, Benjamin J., Hartman, Todd K., and Taber, Charles S.. 2012. ‘Foreign Language Exposure, Cultural Threat, and Opposition to Immigration’. Political Psychology 33(5):635657.
Quillian, Lincoln 1995. ‘Prejudice as a Response to Perceived Group Threat: Population Composition and Anti-Immigrant and Racial Prejudice in Europe’. American Sociological Review 60(4):586611.
Riek, Blake M., Mania, Eric W., and Gaertner, Samuel L.. 2006. ‘Intergroup Threat and Outgroup Attitudes: A Meta-Analytic Review’. Personality and Social Psychology Review 10(4):336353.
Sides, John, and Citrin, Jack. 2007. ‘European Opinion About Immigration: The Role of Identities, Interests and Information’. British Journal of Political Science 37(3):477504.
Sniderman, Paul M., Hagendoorn, Louk, and Prior, Markus. 2004. ‘Predisposing Factors and Situational Triggers: Exclusionary Reactions to Immigrant Minorities’. American Political Science Review 98(1):3549.
Sniderman, Paul M., and Hagendoorn, Louk. 2007. When Ways of Life Collide: Multiculturalism and its Discontents in the Netherlands. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Stephan, Walter G., and Renfro, C. Lausanne. 2002. ‘The Role of Threat in Intergroup Relations’. In Diane M. Mackie and Eliot R. Smith (eds), From Prejudice to Intergroup Emotions: Differentiated Reactions to Social Groups, 191207. New York: Psychology Press.
Stephan, Walter G., and Stephan, Cookie White. 2000. ‘An Integrated Threat Theory of Prejudice’. In Stuart Oskamp (ed), Reducing Prejudice and Discrimination (Claremont Symposium on Applied Social Psychology), 2345. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Valentino, Nicholas A., Brader, Ted, and Jardina, Ashley E.. 2012. ‘Immigration Opposition Among U.S. Whites: General Ethnocentrism or Media Priming of Attitudes About Latinos?’. Political Psychology 34(2):149166.
Velasco González, Karina, Verkuyten, Maykel, Weesie, Jeroen, and Poppe, Edwin. 2008. ‘Prejudice Towards Muslims in the Netherlands: Testing Integrated Threat Theory’. British Journal of Social Psychology 47(4):667685.
YouGov. 2011. ‘YouGov Survey Methods’. Available at, accessed 16 November 2011.
Recommend this journal

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

Political Science Research and Methods
  • ISSN: 2049-8470
  • EISSN: 2049-8489
  • URL: /core/journals/political-science-research-and-methods
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

de Rooij et al supplementary material
de Rooij et al supplementary material 1

 PDF (933 KB)
933 KB
Supplementary materials

de Rooij et al Dataset



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 9
Total number of PDF views: 107 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 1312 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 14th August 2017 - 19th March 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.