Ren, Elaine – American Identity and the Symbolic Threat of COVID-19 as Determinants of Attitudes Toward the U.S., China, and Chinese People

View a PDF version of the poster by clicking here

*There was a bug in Figure 1 of my results that showed two extra lines.

Join the Conversation


  1. Sad results, but nicely done and important study, Elaine! Very impressive!

    1. Thank you Prof. Casserly. They are very sad results and they are closely related to what is happening now in the U.S. society.

  2. Your study was really interesting and you did such a really great job summarizing your findings Elaine! Your research seems really well-grounded in previous literature and I think your results are super relevant to a lot of what is going on in the world right now!

  3. Hi Elaine,

    I really like the topic that you chose because it is so relevant to what we went through at the early stage of the pandemic. I think your research grounded solidly on the past literature and create your interpretation of the group psychology linked to a recent (maybe not that recent) global event. In the future steps, you mentioned about political orientation might influence someone’s attribution of the social and personal consequences of the pandemic. It is a very interesting question because the narratives that the two parties used to describe the pandemic changed over time, and I wonder whether that is also going to change people’s understanding of it.

    1. Thank you Tina! Yes, I am also very curious about how political orientation will affect the perception of COVID-19 among Americans and their degree of denigration toward the threat-related outgroups.

  4. Really important work. I am curious if you think that the U.S President promoting the idea that China was to blame as well as other nationalist ideas played a role, do you think your findings might have been different if that had not been the case?

    1. Thank you Prof. Raskin! This is a very good question. There was previous research that showed how the public figure influences how people perceive certain things as a threat. I think the point you raised might be one of the reasons that Americans perceived COVID-19 as a threat, which could induce denigration toward the threat-related groups. About the nationalists, they might perceive symbolic threat when they felt that their values or ways of lives were challenged by the pandemic, which consequently heightens prejudice against groups that are seen as value-violating. In addition, they might perceive a realistic threat from the pandemic when they experience a lack of safety or competition for resources or power, which is also associated with prejudice against threat-related groups. I hope I explain it clearly. Thank you!

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply to Sarah Raskin Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *