Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


The Western populism wave of ethno-nationalism (i.e., exclusionary resistance to egalitarianism: exclusionist belief in the superiority of ingroup goals over superordinate goals that are inclusive of all cultures) may increase prejudice toward minorities (Schmuck & Matthes, 2017). Integrated threat theory (ITT; Stephan & Stephan, 1996) states that prejudiced attitudes are mediated by four types of threat, which are affected by quantity and quality of intergroup contact (Stephan et al., 2000). These threats include realistic threat (e.g., fear of losing one’s job to an immigrant), symbolic threat (e.g., fear of losing one’s societal values/norms to a foreign culture), intergroup anxiety, and negative stereotypes. Divisive rhetoric that activates perceived outgroup threat (e.g., realistic threat: immigrants portrayed as rapists and criminals) may increase prejudiced attitudes in the target audience. This study investigated how White nationalist versus egalitarian social media messages affect attitudes toward Mexican immigrants. 792 participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions. Participants in two conditions read a social media page with either nationalist-leaning or egalitarian-leaning rhetoric, and participants in the control condition read a social media page with neutral rhetoric. Participants from all three conditions then completed scales assessing realistic threat, symbolic threat, intergroup anxiety, negative stereotypes, and prejudice toward Mexican immigrants, as well as the quantity and quality of their intergroup contact and questions about their political orientation. Condition (i.e., White nationalist or egalitarian priming manipulation) did not have a significant effect on prejudice compared to the control group. Conservatism significantly predicted prejudice, and this relationship was fully mediated by integrated threat. Conservatives reported higher levels of iii realistic/symbolic threat, intergroup anxiety, negative stereotypes, and prejudice toward Mexican immigrants than their liberal counterparts. Perhaps most importantly, participants who reported higher quantity and quality of contact with Mexican immigrants generally had lower scores on scales of integrated threat and prejudice. The Western shift towards exclusionary White nationalism could detrimentally affect minorities’ rights and safety; however, ongoing quality intergroup contact may be society’s path to peace and tolerance.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Helen Harton, Chair, Thesis Committee

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (xi, 75 pages)