Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2019

Degree Type

Honors Thesis



Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Benjamin Levy


Undocumented immigration has been a historically controversial political topic in the United States and is much discussed under the current Trump Administration. The Latinx population, specifically Mexican, has received much negative speculation under the current political platform. While past articles have suggested that prejudice and xenophobia may play a role in attitude and perception of immigration, not many articles look at whether ethnicity influences perception in relation to Haidt and Graham’s Moral Foundation Theory (MFT). MFT looks at moral belief on a multi-dimensional level and reflects scores as more conservative or liberal for five categories. This study aims to look at attitudes and perspectives of immigration in the context of different ethnicities and whether perception is related to ethnicity or rests on moral belief alone. It is hypothesized that individuals who score more conservative on the Moral Foundations Questionnaire (MFQ) are also more likely to reflect more anti-immigration beliefs than individuals who score more liberal on the MFQ. Additionally, it is expected that individuals who have read the Mexican vignette sample will reflect more anti-immigration beliefs than individuals who have read the Swedish vignette or ethnically ambiguous vignette. The participants (n=54) in this study completed measures pertaining to social desirability, attitudes towards immigrants and immigration, and the Moral Foundation Questionnaire. Participants were asked to read one of three randomized vignettes containing one of three different ethnic backgrounds (Mexican, Swedish, and ambiguous). Each vignette contained the same background story of an individual immigrating to the United States. Only the name and country of origin varied. A one-way ANOVA was used to compare the perception of immigration of undocumented persons in the three vignette conditions. Results suggested that attitudes did not differ at the p<.05 level between participants who read the Mexican vignette (M= 78, SD = 9.363), Swedish vignette (M= 77.31, SD = 8.882, or neutral vignette (M=73.94. SD= 12.25), [F= (2, 51) = 0.8709, p = 0.426]. The MFT questionnaire was correlated along with the Attitudes Towards Illegal Aliens (IA) scale with an alpha level of 0.05. (harm/care r = 0.1965, p = 0.017054; fairness/reciprocity r = 0.0696, p = 0.20467; in-group/loyalty r = -0.1414, p = 0.003373; authority/respect and IA scale, r = -0.23095, p = .006494; purity/sanctity r = -0.0049, p = .022996).