Religious and Ethnic Discrimination: Differential Implications for Social Support Engagement, Civic Involvement, and Political Consciousness


  • Renate Ysseldyk
  • Miki Talebi
  • Kimberly Matheson
  • Irene Bloemraad
  • Hymie Anisman


Social identity threats, depending on the content of the identity targeted, may evoke varying socio-political responses. In this regard, religious discrimination may be especially threatening, challenging both the social group and its belief system, thereby promoting more active collective responses. This research examined how religious and ethnic identification differentially evoked engagement with support resources (ingroup and spiritual), civic involvement (including individual and collective action-taking), and political participation (voting or political consciousness) following group-based threats. Study 1 drew from the Canadian Ethnic Diversity Survey (N = 1806). Participants who reported religious discrimination demonstrated greater religious identification, ingroup social engagement, and civic involvement—comparable associations were absent for ethnic discrimination. Study 2 (N = 287) experimentally primed participants to make salient a specific incident of religious or ethnic discrimination. Although ethnic discrimination elicited greater ingroup support-seeking and political consciousness, religious discrimination was perceived as especially harmful and evoked more individual and collective action-taking. Further to this, religious high-identifiers’ responses were mediated by engagement with ingroup or spiritual support in both studies, whereas no mediated relations were evident for ethnic identification. Findings are discussed in terms of distinct socio-political responses to threats targeting identities that are grounded in religious belief systems.