Attitudes Toward Immigrants: Test of Protestant Work Ethic, Egalitarianism, Social Contact, and Ethnic Origin

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Hisako Matsuo, Saint Louis University, USA
Kevin McIntyre, Trinity University, USA
Lisa M. Willoughby, Saint Louis University, USA
Emmanuel Uwalaka, Saint Louis University, USA
Email: [email protected]
Published: December 2013

Citation: Matsuo, H., McIntyre, K., Willoughby, L. M., & Uwalaka, E. (2013). Attitudes Toward Immigrants: Test of Protestant Work Ethic, Egalitarianism, Social Contact, and Ethnic Origin. IAFOR Journal of the Social Sciences, 1(1).


Americans’ attitudes toward immigrants can be described as ambivalent. While some attitudes toward immigrants have been antagonistic, Americans have also espoused beliefs that the United States is a nation of immigrants and that cultural diversity is one of America’s foremost strengths. These ambivalent attitudes toward immigrants might be explained by egalitarianism, which is characterized by social equality and social justice, and the Protestant Work Ethic (PWE), which is characterized by self-discipline and individual achievement. Using data collected from a major metropolitan area in the Midwest (n=382), this study explored two questions: 1) are there any differences in attitudes toward immigrants of differing ethnic origins? and 2) what are the roles of egalitarianism, PWE, personal, and impersonal contact in people’s attitude toward immigrants? The results of repeated measures ANOVA indicated a significant effect of ethnic origin, with European immigrants perceived most positively and Middle Eastern immigrants least positively. The results of regression analyses also revealed that egalitarianism was associated with positive general attitudes toward immigrants and PWE with negative attitudes. Further, close contact was associated with positive attitudes toward immigrants, whereas impersonal contact did not impact general attitudes toward immigrants. Implications for intercultural education are discussed.


attitudes toward immigrants, contact theory, Protestant Work Ethic, egalitarianism, immigrants’ race