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Ideological Biases Weaken the Impact of Social Trust on Ethnic Outgroup Threat

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Previous studies have not examined whether (personal) political ideology influences how trusters perceive of immigrants and refugees as a threat. Our contribution to the literature builds on theories of motivated reasoning and hypothesizes that political ideology weakens the ability of social trust to reduce perceived (ethnic) outgroup threat. Indeed, analyses show that the relationship between social trust and perceived outgroup threat is considerably weaker among rightists than among leftists. Although social trust does relate negatively to perceived outgroup threat across the ideological divide, political ideology has a constraining influence that cannot be ignored. Social trust is also a political phenomenon. We apply a fixed-effects regression, and analyses are based on the 2014-European Social Survey, including 21 countries and 32,175 individuals. In the concluding section, we discuss the full implications of our findings for theories of social trust in an era of increasing flows of immigrants and refugees that go beyond the usual gateway nations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number0032321719862751
JournalPolitical Studies
Pages (from-to)523-540
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • ethnic outgroup threat, fixed-effects regression, motivated reasoning, political ideology, social trust

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