|Feelings of entitlement and superiority that go beyond patriotism and love of country may be a key predictor for Americans who will feel or behave negatively toward undocumented Latino immigrants, according to a study from UT Arlington.
Researchers looked at those enhanced feelings of superiority - referred to as group-level narcissism - along with a factor called national in-group identification in a new work to be published in the August issue of the Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Science. National in-group identification happens when a person's individual identity is strongly tied to and dependent on their membership in a group, like being an American.
Previous research has found that strong in-group identity is not necessarily a predictor of negative attitudes toward other groups. The UT Arlington team found, however, that attitudes changed when a strong in-group identity was paired with an average or above average group narcissism. Then, negative attitudes toward undocumented Latino immigrants were more likely.
"When you look at the rhetoric surrounding undocumented, Latino immigrants in the United States, the perspectives vary widely - from those who characterize undocumented immigrants as criminals to those who support expanding full citizenship rights," said Patricia Lyons, a graduate of the psychology doctoral program in the UT Arlington College of Science and a member of the research team. "We were interested in understanding how and why attitudes varied so widely from a psychological perspective. The group narcissism measure gave us a way to understand these attitudes. "
Lyons co-authored the study with Jared Kenworthy, a UT Arlington associate professor of psychology, and Ph.D. candidate Lauren E. Coursey. Lyons is currently on the psychology faculty at Mountain View College in Dallas.
The team surveyed 223 university students with tools designed to measure their national in-group identity and propensity for group-level narcissism, which is defined as "an inflated image of one's group based on feelings of superiority, entitlement and the need for constant attention and praise at the collective level."
For example, the test assessing group narcissism asked participants to rank