The Muted Consequences of Correct Information about Immigration

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Authors Daniel J Hopkins, John M. Sides, Jack Citrin
Journal/Conference Name THE JOURNAL OF POLITICS
Paper Category
Paper Abstract Previous research shows that people commonly exaggerate the size of minority populations. Moreover, as theories of inter-group threat would predict, the larger people perceive minority groups to be, the less favorably they feel toward these groups. Here, we investigate whether correcting Americans' misperceptions of one such population -- immigrants -- affects attitudes toward this group. We confirm that non-Hispanic Americans over-estimate the percentage of the population that is foreign-born or that is in the U.S. without authorization. However, in four separate survey experiments, we find that providing accurate information does little to affect attitudes toward immigration. This is true even when people's misperceptions are explicitly corrected. These results call into question a potential cognitive mechanism that could underpin inter-group threat theory. Misperceptions of the size of minority groups may be a consequence, rather than cause, of attitudes toward those groups.
Date of publication 2016
Code Programming Language R
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