Journal Article

Immigration, Identity, and Anonymity: Intentionally Masked Intolerance in Ireland

January 7, 2022

International Migration Review

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More recent immigration to Ireland has been from a diverse range of origin contexts, both within and outside the European Union (EU). How has the Irish population responded to these groups, and how openly do Irish residents express their views toward different immigrant groups? We test this response using a survey experiment, which offered respondents an anonymous way to express any negative attitudes to immigrant groups they may have had. Results from the survey experiment show that Irish residents’ support for Black and Polish immigrations is overstated when expressed directly. In contrast, their sentiment toward Muslim immigrants is notably insensitive to the level of anonymity provided, indicating little difference between overt and covert expression of support (or antipathy). In other words, when race/ethnicity or EU origin is made salient, Irish respondents are more likely to mask negative sentiment. When Islam is emphasized, however, Irish antipathy is not masked. We find that in-group preferences, instead of determining support in an absolute sense, shape the reluctance with which opposition to immigrant groups is overtly expressed.