The Political Relevance of Implicit and Explicit Racialized Schemas about Immigrant Origins: Evidence from the United States and Britain
Empirical research consistently demonstrates the importance of racial attitudes in structuring public opinion and political behavior. In this paper, I suggest that the degree to which natives think of immigrants in racial terms is strongly related to attitudes toward immigration. Using the schematic approach to social cognition, I argue that mental associations (schemas) linking immigration to race are formed on the level of origin groups, not individual immigrants. I develop novel instruments to measure these schemas both implicitly and explicitly. Using original survey studies carried out in the United States and Britain, I demonstrate that respondents in the two countries, on average, indeed tend to think of the major immigrant groups in racial terms. Further, the racialized schemas about immigrants are significantly associated with prejudice, opinions about immigration, and partisan affect. Altogether, this study is the first focused attempt to measure the specifically racial component of mass stereotypes about immigrants and show its importance for politically relevant attitudes.