Terrorized by Immigration? Threat Perceptions and Policy Preferences

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Does exposure to terrorism affect attitudes toward immigration policy? If so, is it the sense of threat that impacts these attitudes? Previous studies could not find conclusive evidence of increasing hostility toward out-groups as a direct consequence of terrorist events, as they struggle to separate attitudinal migration policy preferences and reactions to terrorism. Drawing on intergroup threat theory, we conducted two original public opinion polls (N = 954) in Israel, using a unique model that refined both the measure of the intensity of exposure to terrorism–more intensive (Study 1) and less intensive (Study 2)—and differences in the measure of different levels of geographic proximity to the attacks (high/low). Results indicate that in times of intense terror attacks, high levels of exposure to such attacks affect people’s conflict-related threat perceptions, which drive their support for exclusionary migration policies. These findings improve our understanding of the spillover effects of terrorism on public opinion about migrants who are not involved in the conflict that prompts the terror attacks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)552-566
Number of pages15
JournalTerrorism and Political Violence
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Exposure to terrorism
  • Israeli-Palestinian conflict
  • asylum seekers
  • immigration policies
  • threat perceptions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Safety Research
  • Political Science and International Relations


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