Policies and prejudice: Integration policies moderate the link between immigrant presence and anti-immigrant prejudice

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2022 Aug;123(2):337-352. doi: 10.1037/pspi0000376. Epub 2022 Jan 20.


More people than ever migrate across the world, thereby more people than ever live, study, and work in countries, regions, and institutions with high immigrant presence. Conflict and threat theories have argued that increasing immigration inevitably heightens native citizens' anti-immigrant prejudice. Drawing on alternate strands of social psychological literature such as contact theory, the present study challenges this argument. We highlight the role of the sociopolitical context of prejudice focusing on socioeconomic and legal integration policies. We reason that such integration policies shape intergroup relations by reducing structural (socioeconomic and legal) inequalities. Thus, inclusive policies will effectively reduce prejudice especially at high levels of immigrant presence through empowering immigrants and reducing immigrant disadvantage. Indeed our findings identify inclusive integration policies as a key condition for low anti-immigrant prejudice in high-immigration contexts. We analyze surveys of 143,752 participants across 66 different countries, 20 subnational regions, and 64 institutions as sociopolitical contexts using six different data sets in eight studies. Our multilevel analyses consistently demonstrate that anti-immigrant prejudice is lower among natives when higher levels of immigrant presence are coupled with inclusive, rather than exclusive, integration policies. Inclusive policies that render immigrants more equal to natives are the path to improved intergroup relations and social cohesion in diverse societies. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Emigrants and Immigrants*
  • Humans
  • Policy
  • Prejudice*