Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Winter 2021

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Experimental Psychology

Committee Chair

Tonya M. Buchanan

Second Committee Member

Mary K. Radeke

Third Committee Member

Richard Marsicano


Researchers in diverse fields such as psychology, sociology, anthropology, and geography have extensively researched push and pull factors that lead to migrations (Castles et al., 2014) as well as the political and economic consequences that migrations have on both sending and receiving countries (Golash-Boza, 2015). However, relatively little research is published on whether markers of racial categorization affect the social classification of immigrants, their legal status, and the relationship between support for immigration policies and specific patterns of categorization. In the current research, I investigated whether social categorizations of individuals as undocumented immigrants depend on phenotypes (i.e., skin tone), and the link between these categorizations and the support for stringent immigration policies. Taken together, the findings of this research suggest that people with Brown (vs White or Black) skin are more likely to be perceived as undocumented immigrants and that such a categorization is associated with increased support for stringent immigration policies. Practical and political implications for judgements influenced by the social categorization based on skin tone are discussed.

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