Framing unauthorized immigrants: The effect of labels on evaluations Public Deposited

Downloadable Content

Download PDF

This is an author's peer-reviewed final manuscript, as accepted by the publisher. The published article is copyrighted by Psychological Reports and published by Ammons Scientific. It can be found at:


Attribute NameValues
  • In the U.S. media, unauthorized immigrants are often interchangeably referred to as “illegal aliens,” “illegal immigrants,” and undocumented immigrants.” In spite of formal equivalence, these terms carry different connotations, but the effects of these labels on people’s attitudes toward immigrants are not well documented. In the present study, 274 undergraduate students in psychology responded to one of three randomly distributed versions of a 20-item scale measuring attitudes toward unauthorized immigration. The items in the three scale versions varyingly referred to immigrants using the three terms. Results showed differences in attitudes toward unauthorized immigration between all experimental conditions. The label “illegal immigrants” yielded significantly less positive attitudes compared to the label “undocumented immigrants,” and respondents exposed to the label “illegal aliens” showed the most positive attitudes. Furthermore, the effects of the experimental conditions were not moderated by respondents’ patriotism, sex, or own immigrant background.
Resource Type
Date Available
Date Issued
  • Ommundsen, R., Van Der Veer, K., Larsen, K. S., & Eilertsen, D. E. (2014). Framing unauthorized immigrants: The effect of labels on evaluations. Psychological Reports, 114(2), 461-478. doi:10.2466/17.PR0.114k20w0
Journal Title
Journal Volume
  • 114
Journal Issue/Number
  • 2
Rights Statement
Peer Reviewed



This work has no parents.