By, Adam K. Fetterman
As tensions mount surrounding Arizona’s controversial immigration law, it creeps closer and closer to coming to fruition. Jacques Billeaud and Amanda Lee Myers of the Associated Press indicate that the law comes in response to growing anger over illegal immigrants causing problems within the state. This is a common argument amongst those that want a tough response to illegal immigration and want to make it more difficult to enter the country. As Billeaud and Myers noted one of community member “He regularly depicts illegal immigration as an ‘invasion’”. On a similar note, it can even be depicted as a contamination.
Along these lines, Landau, Sullivan, and Greenberg (2009) found that when made aware of bodily contamination, people judged immigration more harshly. This type of finding comes from a body of metaphor and embodied cognition work, gaining ground in social psychology. According to metaphor theory, we think about the world around us with thoughts that relate to our physical or bodily experiences. Therefore, in this particular paper, Landau and his colleagues (2009) found that people look at their country like a part of their body, and immigrants are equated to contaminators. When adding to the issue “illegal” immigration and a perceived increase in criminal activity, one can see where the tension in Arizona comes from. However, an issue can arise if these metaphoric or embodied cognition biases individuals’ views of the real problems and shortsighted policies are put in place. This in turn leads to violations of civil rights and prejudice.