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The social psychology of attitudes towards cultural diversity: A multilevel analysis in Switzerland

English title The social psychology of attitudes towards cultural diversity: A multilevel analysis in Switzerland
Applicant Green Eva G. T.
Number 122407
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Institut des sciences sociales Faculté des sciences sociales et politiques Université de Lausanne
Institution of higher education University of Lausanne - LA
Main discipline Psychology
Start/End 01.01.2009 - 30.04.2011
Approved amount 147'185.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Psychology
Sociology

Keywords (7)

cultural diversity attitudes; threat; intergroup contact; prejudice; multi-level analysis; ;

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary
This project investigates the social and contextual foundations of individual attitudes towards cultural diversity and immigration in Switzerland. Based on a social psychological framework, we examine why citizens support or oppose integration of immigrants in a number of social domains, expressed for example in attitudes towards cultural diversity at the workplace, rights of asylum seekers, and laws prohibiting racism and discriminatory treatment. The research is carried out on existing national survey data on diversity and immigration. Our research tests competing predictions based on threat and intergroup contact theories on both the individual and the contextual level. While threat theories emphasize the negative impact of immigrant presence (either perceived as a material or a symbolic threat), contact theories focus on its positive consequences (based on positive experience with immigrants). By studying how well-established psychological processes underlying prejudice and discrimination are moderated by contextual, canton/municipality-level characteristics, this project aims to clarify the conditions under which threat or contact hypotheses are better suited to account for diversity attitudes. The project will evolve in three phases: (1) Databases which contain items on diversity attitudes, threat perceptions and contact are overviewed and an inventory of relevant items is created. In parallel, a context-level indicator database is created. (2) Comparable and reliable indicators across the databases are constructed. The social psychological meaning of cantons/municipalities as units of analysis is evaluated. (3) The predicted multilevel models (regression analyses and structural equations) are tested and cross-validated with different datasets.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
159336 The interplay of social norms and intergroup contact in understanding immigration attitudes 01.07.2015 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

This project investigates the social and contextual foundations of individual attitudes towards cultural diversity and immigration in Switzerland. Based on a social psychological framework, we will examine why citizens support or oppose integration of immigrants in a number of social domains, expressed for example in attitudes towards cultural diversity at the workplace, rights of asylum seekers, and laws prohibiting racism and discriminatory treatment. The research devised in this project analyses existing national survey data on diversity and immigration (e.g., ESS, ISSP, VOX). As a development of the prior work carried out by the applicants, a multilevel approach is proposed to study diversity attitudes within one national context, Switzerland, by simultaneously examining the impact of individual- and cantonal-level predictors on diversity attitudes.Our research will test competing predictions based on threat and intergroup contact theories on both the individual and the contextual level. While threat theories emphasize the negative impact of immigrant presence (either perceived as a material or a symbolic threat), contact theories focus on its positive consequences (based on positive experience with immigrants). By studying how well-established psychological processes underlying prejudice and discrimination are moderated by contextual, canton-level characteristics, the main aim of the project is to clarify the conditions under which threat or contact hypotheses are better suited to account for diversity attitudes. The research takes advantage of the federalist Swiss context characterised by large cantonal autonomy, especially in the domain of integration of immigrants. We examine how diversity attitudes are formed against the background of structural, legal and institutional features of the 26 Swiss cantons, for example as a function of their mean income, level of social inequality, unemployment rate, perceived insecurity, proportion of foreigners, and differing legal frameworks regarding immigration and citizenship.On the policy level, the project provides a thorough and systematic within-country investigation of cultural diversity attitudes which may feed public debates concerning diversity and integration in Switzerland. The project represents also a contribution to the newly established Swiss Foundation for Research in Social Sciences (FORS) in Lausanne and its research on social inequality and social change in Switzerland, in particular with respect to a comparative perspective linking individual- and collective-level data.The project will evolve in three phases: (1) Databases which contain items on diversity attitudes, threat perceptions and contact are overviewed and an inventory of relevant items is created. In parallel, a canton-level indicator database is created. (2) Comparable and reliable indicators across the databases are constructed. The social psychological meaning of cantons as units of analysis is evaluated. (3) The predicted multilevel models (regression analyses and structural equations) are tested and cross-validated with different datasets. Research funds are requested for eighteen months, starting November 1, 2008. The project is designed for a post-doctoral researcher (chargé de recherche) working on a full-time schedule.
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