Testing a New Theoretical Model for Attitudes Toward Immigrants: The Case of Social Workers’ Attitudes Toward Asylum Seekers in Israel

Eugene Tartakovsky, Sophie D. Walsh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


The present study proposes a new threat–benefit theoretical model explaining attitudes of local people toward immigrants. Based on the theory of human values and extending Integrative Threat Theory, the threat–benefit model suggests that the local population perceives immigrants as both threatening and beneficial for the receiving society. The model assumes that appraisal of an immigrant group as threatening or beneficial for the receiving society influences opinions regarding immigration policy related to the immigrant group. The study assessed the new model investigating attitudes toward asylum seekers in a representative sample of 283 social workers in Israel. Results of the study support a conceptualization of immigrant appraisal involving four types of threats (economic, physical, social cohesion, and modernity) and four types of benefits (economic, physical, cultural diversity, and humanitarian), which represent different types of realistic and symbolic threats and benefits. Findings showed that appraisal of asylum seekers as beneficial or threatening to the receiving society mediated the connections between personal preferences for values of universalism, power, social security, and tradition and support for immigration policy directed either at defending immigrants’ rights or defending the receiving society. Application of the model for understanding attitudes toward different minorities as well as for creation of value-based interventions and programs aimed at reducing negative attitudes toward various stigmatized groups in society are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-96
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016


FundersFunder number
Tel Aviv University


    • Israel
    • asylum seekers
    • attitudes toward immigrants
    • immigration policy
    • personal value preferences
    • threat–benefit model


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