Direct and indirect predictors of opposition to immigration in Europe: individual values, cultural values, and symbolic threat

Eldad Davidov, Daniel Seddig, Anastasia Gorodzeisky, Rebeca Raijman, Peter Schmidt, Moshe Semyonov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The current study examines the following questions: (1) the extent to which individual basic human values are linked with attitudes towards immigration; (2) whether symbolic threat by immigration mediates this relation; and (3) whether cultural values moderate the relations between individual values, threat, and attitudes towards immigration. The empirical analysis relies on the 2014/2015 data from the immigration module of the European Social Survey (ESS) for West and East European countries. We find that universalistic individuals expressed lower threat due to immigration and higher support of immigration while conservative individuals displayed the opposite pattern. Symbolic threat mediated the association between values and immigration attitudes, but in most countries the mediation was partial. The associations between values, symbolic threat, and attitudes towards immigration were stronger in countries characterised by higher levels of intellectual and affective autonomy and weaker in countries characterised by higher levels of cultural embeddedness. The findings provide support for the centrality of human values in the formation of threat and attitudes towards immigration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)553-573
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - 17 Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The first author would like to thank the University of Zurich Research Priority Programme ‘Social Networks’ for their support. The authors would like to thank Lisa Trierweiler for the English proof of the manuscript. The work of Peter Schmidt was supported by the Alexander von Humboldt polish honorary fellowship granted by the foundation for Polish Science for the international cooperation of Jan Cieciuch with Peter Schmidt.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • European Social Survey (ESS)
  • Individual basic human values
  • affective and intellectual autonomy
  • attitudes towards immigration
  • cultural embeddedness
  • cultural values
  • mediation
  • symbolic threat
  • universalism and conservation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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