Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Victoria M. Esses


This dissertation examined how prejudice may operate in the treatment of immigrants when they claim workplace discrimination. In line with the Justification-Suppression Model of the Expression of Prejudice (JSM; Crandall & Eshleman, 2003), I expected more negative attitudes toward an immigrant claimant from a dissimilar culture (Iran) compared to an immigrant claimant from a similar culture (Britain) and a second generation Iranian Canadian. All three studies utilized experimental design. The results of Study 1 demonstrated that the Iranian claimant was especially likely to be seen as not having experienced discrimination, more deserving of and responsible for the dismissal, and was especially likely to be derogated, compared to an Iranian Canadian claimant. Attributions of personal responsibility mediated the effect of country of origin on target derogation and outcome deservingness. In Study 2, the claimant from Iran elicited more negative attitudes than a claimant from Britain. Moreover, participants who suppressed their prejudice less reported more bias against the claimant from Iran as compared to the Iranian Canadian claimant. In addition to the country of origin, Study 3 manipulated a source of attributions for discrimination. To do so, in addition to situational ambiguity, Study 3 added two other explanations for the discrimination claimant’s contract termination – one considered to be internal to the claimant and the other external. The results demonstrated suppression of prejudice against the claimant from Iran in all conditions. When the claimant was clearly unskilled for the job, there was an evidence of a “black sheep effect”- more negative attitudes toward the British claimant. Finally, in the situation with an authority figure responsible for discrimination, the second generation Iranian Canadian elicited more negativity. These effects may be explained by attributions of personal responsibility and judgements of outcome deservingness. Taken together, these studies demonstrate that prejudice toward skilled immigrants from dissimilar cultures may contribute not only to employment discrimination, but also interfere with their attempts to seek justice when they proceed with a claim of discrimination.