Immigration, political trust, and Brexit - Testing an aversion amplification hypothesis.Br J Soc Psychol 2018; 57(2):310-326BJ
A few weeks prior to the EU referendum (23rd June 2016) two broadly representative samples of the electorate were drawn in Kent (the south-east of England, N = 1,001) and Scotland (N = 1,088) for online surveys that measured their trust in politicians, concerns about acceptable levels of immigration, threat from immigration, European identification, and voting intention. We tested an aversion amplification hypothesis that the impact of immigration concerns on threat and identification would be amplified when political trust was low. We hypothesized that the effect of aversion amplification on voting intentions would be mediated first by perceived threat from immigration, and then by (dis) identification with Europe. Results in both samples were consistent with this hypothesis and suggest that voters were most likely to reject the political status quo (choose Brexit) when concerns that immigration levels were too high were combined with a low level of trust in politicians.