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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter June 28, 2019

Moral Conviction and Immigration Attitudes in America

  • Maura McDonald EMAIL logo and Timothy J. Ryan EMAIL logo
From the journal The Forum


Past work finds that political attitudes vary in the extent to which they are held with moral conviction – a distinctive facet of attitude intensity associated with animosity toward political opponents and resistance to compromise. We examine moral conviction as it arises on a timely political issue: immigration. Our approach is distinctive in that we measure attitudes about immigration in general, but also several subcomponents of the issue (e.g. attitudes toward building a border wall and making English the official language of the US). We find that attention to moral conviction reveals a face of public opinion that other measures do not. Opinions on the conservative side of immigration topics tend to be more strongly held and more consistent across issues. But those with opinions on the liberal side of the issue exhibit greater moral conviction, suggesting that they might be easier to mobilize and more resistant to compromise. We also assess the extent to which morally convicted attitudes can be traced to specific values and aspects of socialization.


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Published Online: 2019-06-28

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