Us vs. Them

UT Arlington researchers link patriotism and narcissism to immigrant discrimination

UT Arlington researchers link patriotism to immigrant discrimination

Illegal Latino Immigrants
UT Arlington researchers found that individuals with average or above average group-level narcissism had more negative attitudes towards illegal Latino immigrants.  Photo by Thomas Hawk

According to a new study by researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington, Americans with a heightened sense of patriotism are more likely to feel negatively about undocumented Latino immigrants. Previous research has found strong feelings of national pride alone did not affect an individual’s attitude towards immigrants.

But this new study shows that group-level narcissism and superiority combined with copious levels of patriotism creates negative attitudes about undocumented immigrants. UTA researchers defined group-level narcissism as “an inflated image of one’s group based on feelings of superiority, entitlement and the need for constant attention and praise at the collective level.”

 The study notes that Americans' opinions on immgrants vary widely.

The study, published in the August issue of the Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Science, notes that Americans’ opinions on immigrants vary widely.

“[There are] those who characterize undocumented immigrants as criminals and those who support expanding full citizenship rights,” research team member Patricia Lyons said in a statement. “We were interested in understanding how and why attitudes varied so widely from a psychological perspective. The group narcissism measure gave us a way to understand these attitudes. ”

More than 230 UT Arlington students of non-Latino heritage were surveyed for the study to weigh their levels of group narcissism and national identification by answering how much they agreed or disagreed with questions like “America will never be satisfied until we get all that we deserve” and “Being an American is an important reflection of who I am.”

In the study, the researchers speculated that the negative attitudes might stem from perceived threats to jobs, resources or beliefs. The researchers also said that more investigation would be needed to further figure out more specific emotions and attitudes beyond overall negativity.