Date of Award

Fall 2019

Document Type




First Advisor

Francisca Oyogoa

Second Advisor

Catherine Berhide


Immigration to the United States has been a prominent concern throughout U.S. history, but foreign culture’s influence on immigration attitudes has largely been ignored in previous research. To explore the tensions between native-born and foreign-born residents in the United States, this study turns to Social Identity Theory. The theory explains ingroup and outgroup relations and how a dichotomy is created to separate the “self” from that of the “other.” Using the 2004 General Social Survey (GSS), this paper examines how believing that foreign films, music, and books damage our national and local cultures influence support for immigration to the United States, controlling for how Republican the respondent is and their highest level of education completed. The sample (n = 1059) is compiled from a nationally representative pool of non-institutionalized U.S. residents aged 18 and older who identify politically as Democratic, Independent, or Republican. Consistent with Social Identity Theory, the findings suggest that respondents who believe foreign culture damages our national and local ways of life are less supportive of increasing immigration to the United States. Although it is a weak relationship, the data show that even after controlling for strength of political affiliation and years of school completed, how the respondents answer the foreign culture question is a statistically significant (p < .01) indicator of their support for immigration. These findings suggest that the arts and familiarity with other cultures have the potential to reduce ingroup bias and xenophobic attitudes.