Psychological Versus Economic Views on Immigration and Immigration Policy

Revision Sheet
For this essay, I examined the two disciplines of psychology and economics and how

they differed in how they presented their research on the effects of immigration and immigration

policy. Having a similar structure to my first writing project, I first began with an explanation of

what each genre was and how their discourse community was exemplified in a college class

under that discipline. I then went on to provide a research paper from each discipline and

compared the two, ultimately ending with the similarities between the class settings and the

research papers. Compared to the first writing project, I felt that this essay needed more revision

because this topic required more in-depth analysis and interpretation of the research papers.

For the revision process, I examined the comments that were so kindly provided by the

professor and based my changes off those. The majority of the comments stated that I needed to

add more quotes from the research papers and for general definitions of the disciplines. With this

said, I added a brief definition to each paragraph that described the basic ideas of the discipline.

In the paragraph that discusses the discourse community of economics, I provided more evidence

as to why a class in this discipline involves less student participation compared to the experiment

psychology class. Lastly, I added more analysis to the paragraph where I talk about the

psychology research paper by adding a quote from the paper.
Psychological Versus Economic Views on Immigration and Immigration Policy

Psychological Versus Economical Views on Immigration and Immigration Policy
Ruby Mora
University of California Santa Barbara
June 9, 2017
Psychological Versus Economic Views on Immigration and Immigration Policy

Ruby Mora
Professor Speiser
Writing 2
June 9, 2017
Psychological Versus Economical Views on Immigration and Immigration Policy

“Where are you from?” is a common question asked when getting to know someone

personally. Some people are born and raised in the United States. Meanwhile, others come here

from distant countries in search of a new world of opportunities and adventure. However, if we

look just a bit into our American pasts, each of us traveled from far away lands to somehow

make this place home. On the inside, everyone is the same, no matter the color of your skin or

what type of neighborhood you live in. We all have the same goals: to live in a place of freedom,

rights, and opportunities. If this is true, why do we prohibit certain individuals—that are hoping

for a new beginning—from being able to enter the U.S.? This question continues to be a topic of

debate, not only in the U.S., but around the world as well.

Although we are all the same inside, national borders have led to the creation of specific

immigration policies and laws that regulate who may enter. Discussing the topic of immigration,

we can see further into how it affects society whether it be economically or psychologically.

When viewing immigration through the lens of economics, certain questions appear, such as

“How is immigration affecting the job market?” or “What are the costs of society supporting

these newcomers?”. On the other hand, a psychological approach at immigration and policy

looks more at its impact on an individual’s attitudes, such as public concern. Through the use of

analysis when comparing the two disciplines of economics and psychology, along with their

discourse communities, it is apparent as to how different they present their material. By
Psychological Versus Economic Views on Immigration and Immigration Policy

examining peer-reviewed articles and observing college classes in these disciplines, we can see

how they compare when discussing the topic of immigration and its effect on the public.

Psychology is the study of behavior and of the mind. As a discipline, research is done on

humans and animals to better understand what is going on in the brain and how certain factors

impair the mind. Kantowitz, Roediger III, and Elmes (2015) state “the goal of scientific

psychology is to understand why people think and act as they do”(p.4). By observing a class

focusing on experimental psychology, I was able to further understand the different aspects and

expectations of this discourse community. In this class, the professor is seen as the authority

figure who lectures for the majority of the time. Instead of using power points to display on a

screen like a typical class, he walks back and forth on the stage and lectures using only

notecards. Because of this, it is extremely important to pay attention as he does not record the

lecture, or post any notes online. By allowing room for discussion, the professor asks the

students for their interpretation on an experiment being discussed, while still presenting his

interpretation along with the books interpretation at the end. Prior knowledge of psychology is

vital in order to understand the material presented in this class, as students are required to take

three pre-requisite classes before taking this one. This ensures that all the students are on the

same level and can understand the specific lexis used throughout the lecture. Compared to an

intro class that only teaches the foundation of psychology, this course was very convenient to

observe because it looked further into psychology as a discipline.

Another discipline, economics is the study of factors that go into consumerism,

production, and the market of distribution. As defined by Investopedia, economics “studies how

individuals, businesses, governments, and nations make choices on allocating resources to satisfy

their wants and needs, and tries to determine how these groups should organize and coordinate
Psychological Versus Economic Views on Immigration and Immigration Policy

efforts to achieve maximum output” (p.1). When observing a class in this discipline, we can see

the differences between the two discourse communities. Although the professor does talk

throughout the entire time similar to the psychology class, there is no student participation

involved. During this time, the professor lectures about theories and equations as they scroll

through their lecture slides presented on the board. With no students raising their hands to ask

questions, the class seems more esoteric. Comparing this style of teaching with the psychology

class, this can be seen as a less effective way of teaching because it does not require the students

to actively participate or pay attention, leading to confusion. Although it differs from

psychology, this style of teaching is typical in an economics class as the material in this

discipline is more set-in stone. This could imply that a greater level of knowledge is required for

full participation in the discipline of economics. As seen in the class observations on how the

two discourse communities differ, we now can compare two articles about immigration and

immigration policy that could be discussed in these classes.

Beginning with an economic article, in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management,

Orrenius and Zavodny (2012) write about the effects of immigration on the labor market,

employment, and its fiscal impact, focusing on “the difference between taxes paid by immigrants

and the cost of providing them with government services” (p. 2). Throughout this article, the

authors use their sources’ results to reach their conclusion. This is usual as most economists do

not create their own studies, but rather they plug the data into computer models and analyze it.

Along with this, the article seems vague and provides only estimates of the impact of

immigration. For example, Orrenius and Zavodny (2012) state “Such studies generally find that

immigration has had little or no significant negative effect on natives’ wages (p.2). Instead of

explaining these studies, the authors then go on to explain another experiment that has nothing to
Psychological Versus Economic Views on Immigration and Immigration Policy

do with the one previously discussed. This leads to confusion as the article seems to jump from

topic to topic. Lastly, this article requires the reader to have some prior knowledge of economics

and politics. The authors use terms such as “H-2B programs” and “E-Verify” to talk about

immigration-related legislation at the state level (p.3). Here, a typical reader would have no idea

as to what the authors are referring too. This implies that this article was written for an audience

of scholarly peers, and not for the general public as the material presents specific lexis.

Alternatively, a psychological article about immigration and immigration policy portrays

a different perspective on its influences on society. In the Annual Review, Fussell (2014)

discusses the effect of immigration on natives’ attitudes towards immigration and how it

“potentially shapes immigrant and ethnic identities and intergroup relations” (p.479). She uses

surveys taken over several years to compare how the opinions of natives towards immigrants has

changed over time. Adding to the fact that this article is longer in length, the article is more

structurally organized and goes more in-depth compared to the economics article. She explains

different theories, and how the data is interpreted to support some of the hypotheses presented by

some of her sources. She does not use specific lexis, but rather defines the terms, such as the

various theories she provides, so that the reader knows exactly what she is talking about. For

example, she explains one theory by Blumer which states that he viewed “prejudice as an

expression of group identity that emerges when conflict makes group differences salient”

(p.490). In this section of the paper, she defines each theory and compares their differences.

Most importantly, she places no personal opinions on the matter as she writes for a more public

audience. Instead she uses an informative tone to display her information so that the point she is

trying to make across is completely understood after reading everything she has to say. By the
Psychological Versus Economic Views on Immigration and Immigration Policy

end of the paper, the reader knows exactly how natives’ attitudes toward immigrants and

minorities has shaped immigration policy and immigration relations.

Although psychology and economics present dissimilar perspectives on immigration,

they are similar in the type of material they present in their articles and in a college class. In the

class setting, both discourse communities require prior knowledge and use explicit lexis

presented by the authority figure: the professor. Drawing mostly on quantitative data, analysis

and interpretation are used to see how the results lead to a more generalized statement or theory.

In the articles, both mention several outside sources about the subject in their work. This results

in both data examination and evidence-based conclusions.

Similarly, both disciplines tend to overlap, as economics can involve psychological

factors in their data. Meanwhile, psychology can look at how the economy affects human

behavior. When looking further into immigration through the lens of economics, there are many

psychological, social, and cognitive factors that influence people’s decision making. Specifically,

this can lead to changes in the market, such as market pricing and supply demand. Using the

psychology article—that was previously discussed—as an example, economists could look at

how the natives’ attitudes towards immigration could affect the ability of immigrants to find

steady work. Shifting now to the psychological point of view on immigration, how immigrants

fit in the economy can affect their feelings and behavior. As an immigrant, it can be difficult to

find a job in the economy, depending on their skill level. For example, if an immigrant family

enters the United States with no formal education or proof of work experience, they may struggle

to find work, which could lead to poverty or instability. As a result, this instability can have a

detrimental effect on the family’s mental state, causing depression or a loss in hope.
Psychological Versus Economic Views on Immigration and Immigration Policy

Overall, we see when looking at immigration, both economics and psychology examine

its effect on both the immigrants and the natives. Economics looks more at how public views

influence the entire market, while psychology looks more at how it influences certain groups of

individuals. In the end, both disciplines tend to overlap, with a slight hint of differences between

them.
Psychological Versus Economic Views on Immigration and Immigration Policy

References

Bedard. (2017). Macroeconomic Theory. Class Lecture for Economics 101, Department

of Economics, University of California, Santa Barbara.

Fussell, E. (2014). Warmth of the Welcome: Attitudes Toward Immigrants and

Immigration Policy in the United States. Annual Review of Sociology, 40(1), 479-498.

doi:10.1146/annurev-soc-071913-043325

Herrera. (2017). Experimental Psychology. Class Lecture for Psych 7, Department of

Psychological & Brain Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara.

Kantowitz, B. H., Roediger, H. L., III, & Elmes, D. G. (2015). Experimental Psychology

(10th ed.).

Orrenius, P. M. and Zavodny, M. (2012), THE ECONOMICS OF U.S. IMMIGRATION

POLICY. J. Pol. Anal. Manage., 31: 948–956. doi: 10.1002/pam.21653

Staff, I. (2017, April 26). Economics. Retrieved June 9, 2017, from

http://www.investopedia.com/terms/e/economics.asp