The pathogen paradox: evidence that perceived COVID-19 threat is associated with both pro-and anti-immigrant attitudes
Adam-Troian, Jais and Bağcı, Çiğdem (2021) The pathogen paradox: evidence that perceived COVID-19 threat is associated with both pro-and anti-immigrant attitudes. International Review of Social Psychology, 34 (1). pp. 1-15. ISSN 2119-4130 (Print) 2397-8570 (Online)
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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.5334/irsp.469
The COVID-19 pandemic, as a global threat to humanity, is likely to instigate a variety of collective responses in the society. We examined, for the first time, whether the COVID-19 threat perception is related to attitudes towards Syrian refugees in Turkey, theorizing a dual pathway whereby pandemic-induced threat would relate to both pro- and anti-immigrant feelings. Drawing upon integrated threat theory and models of collective-threat regulation, we expected that pandemic threat would lead to more exclusionary outgroup attitudes through increased immigrant threat, whereas we argued that perceived COVID-19 threat would promote inclusionary attitudes through creating a common ingroup in the face of a global threat. Using online search volume data at the province level (Study 1, N = 81) and self-reporting measures at the individual level (Study 2, N = 294), we found that the COVID-19 threat was directly associated with more positive attitudes towards refugees (Study 1 and 2). Study 2 further revealed indirect positive (through a sense of common identity) and negative (through perceptions of immigrant threat) links between COVID-19 threat perception and outgroup attitudes. These results highlight the importance of integrating threat regulation and social identity perspectives when assessing the implications of pathogen-related threats.
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