The Negative and Positive Influences of Threat and Nonthreat Media Messages About Immigrants

Chanjung Kim, Jake Harwood, Jun Xiang


We examined (a) the effect of threat messages (media messages suggesting that an outgroup is threatening to an ingroup) versus nonthreat messages (messages refuting the outgroup’s threat) on intergroup bias, (b) the mechanisms underlying that effect, and (c) whether nonthreat messages would result in smaller effects of negative stereotypes on intergroup bias, compared with threat messages. We found that exposure to a threat message about immigrants (compared with a nonthreat message) resulted in more support for punitive immigration policies. This occurred via two sequential mediators: feelings of anger and contempt toward the outgroup, and outgroup derogation. The effect of negative stereotypes on intergroup bias was smaller in the nonthreat message condition than the threat message condition. We discuss implications for the effects of minority news portrayals.


threat message, stereotypes, intergroup bias, immigration policy

Full Text: