Not just a matter of culture:
The influence of mandatory integration programs on perception of immigrant acculturation
ABSTRACT: The integration of immigrants and the definition of what is a “suitable” immigrant are still subjects to intense debate. Research has shown that members of the national majority group consider host culture adoption by immigrants as desirable (Zagefka & Brown, 2002). However, so far, the positive effect of perceived host culture adoption on positive attitudes toward immigrants has not been explained. We argue that this effect is due to the fact that Majority members infer national identification of immigrants from cultural adoption. We conducted two experimental studies. In Study 1, participants were presented with information about an immigrant group that either adopted or rejected the host culture. In line with our hypothesis, the effect of the manipulation was fully mediated by perceived identification of the immigrants to the host nation. Study 2 reproduced the same experimental design, but used descriptions of individual immigrants’ acculturation strategies. In addition, the immigrant group’s status – valued vs. devalued origin – was also manipulated. Results replicated the effect of perceived cultural adoption on attitudes, mediated by perceived national identification. The status manipulation had no significant effect, and did not interact with cultural adoption. These results suggest that the attribution of mental states underlying cultural behaviors is even more influent than the behaviors themselves. Implications for integration policies and more precisely for mandatory integration programs, which force more and more immigrants across Europe to adopt host cultural behaviors, are discussed.
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