ISPP Annual Meeting edition:37 location:Rome, Italy date:4-7 July 2014
The literature allows us to assume that both intergroup friendship and generalized social trust will be negatively related to the occurrence of anti-immigrant sentiments. In this paper, we test these assumptions on a European population sample, taking into account the actual level of ethnic diversity in the country. The results show, first of all, that there is a negative relation between ethnic diversity and anti-immigrant sentiments, which renders the hypothesis rather unlikely that immigration should be causally related to the occurrence of anti-immigrant sentiments. More than that, the prejudice-reducing effect of having immigrant friends is even stronger in countries where there is more ethnic diversity. In line with expectations, both intergroup friendship and generalized trust are negatively related to anti-immigrant sentiments. However, contrary to what theorists have hypothesized, these effects operate independently rather than intertwined. Country-level variables like multicultural policies or extreme right voting, were not related at all to the level of anti-immigrant sentiments and did not moderate the relation between intergroup friendship and generalized trust, on the one hand, and anti-immigrant sentiments, on the other. We close with some observations on how the effects for intergroup friendship and generalized trust on anti-immigrant sentiments may be explained in its social context.