Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Arts and Sciences


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Mark Peffley


Immigration is one of the most salient and divisive issues in the US and a host of other countries, with public opinion polarized and elites deadlocked on the issue. One limitation of research on immigration attitudes is the tendency for scholars to focus exclusively on dark motivations driving hostility toward immigrants rather than those leading to compassion and support for immigrants. Using 2016 American National Election Studies (ANES) data, I examine the relationship between attitudes towards immigration and several Big Five personality traits, focusing on Altruism. I find that personality traits, especially those related to Altruism, are crucial determinants of attitudes toward immigrants, even in the face of an array of controls for political predispositions and socio-demographic characteristics. I conclude with a discussion of why further research on more positive personality traits is every bit as important for understanding prosocial behavior as the usual focus on antisocial behavior.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)