How intergroup social connections shape immigrants’ psychological responses to social exclusion

Marinucci, M. (University of Milan-Bicocca), Riva, P. (University of Milan-Bicocca)

Social exclusion has detrimental effects on individuals’ psychological wellbeing. Williams (2009) assumed that people experiencing chronic exclusion would inescapably enter a stage of resignation, (i.e., depression, alienation, unworthiness, and helplessness). However, few studies have tested and challenged this assumption. In the present research, considering immigrants as a population experiencing persistent episodes of social exclusion, we investigated how social connections with native-born citizens and other immigrants moderated the link between social exclusion and resignation. Study 1 focused on a newly collected sample of 112 asylum seekers in Italy. We found that in immigrants primarily connected with other immigrants, resignation increased with their experiences of exclusion. However, when immigrants’ social connections with the native population prevailed over those with other immigrants, social exclusion was no longer associated with resignation. In Study 2, we replicated and extended the results of Study 1 using an existing European dataset (CILS4EU) composed of 2206 adolescent immigrants. These results suggest that the exclusion – resignation link can be moderated by situational factors. Moreover, our findings highlight the importance of fostering social connections among asylum seekers and immigrants with native populations to avoid the risk of segregation when tackling issues linked with immigrants’ social exclusion.

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