Foreign language exposure, cultural threat, and opposition to immigration


Call any company with an automated phone system in the U.S. and you will likely hear a recording like this one: ‘Para continuar en español, oprima el número dos’ (‘to continue in Spanish, press number two’). We argue that the increased prevalence of linguistically unassimilated immigrants within one’s local environment challenges a core aspect of many Americans’ social and cultural competencies. We draw upon survey and experimental data to demonstrate that incidental exposure to a foreign language like Spanish, as well as local contact with immigrants who speak limited English, heightens feelings of cultural threat, which increases anti-immigrant sentiment and policy preferences.

Political Psychology