The CSDC Speaker Series Presents:
“Engendering empathy, begetting backlash: American Attitudes toward Syrian Refugees”
Professor Claire Adida (University of California San Diego)
You can learn more about Professor Adida by clicking here.
To view this talk, click here.
Social scientists have identified the ways in which and reasons why individuals harbor exclusionary attitudes toward immigrants. Can we move people toward inclusion instead? This project leverages the Syrian refugee crisis – one of the most significant humanitarian crises of our time – to test whether and under what conditions American citizens adopt more inclusionary responses to Syrian refugees. We conduct a survey experiment with a nationally representative sample of American citizens in the weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential election and test two mechanisms hypothesized to promote inclusion: information and empathy. Additionally, employing a conjoint experiment, we examine the characteristics of Syrian refugees that foster exclusionary or inclusionary attitudes. Our results unveil significant effects of both empathy and information treatments on inclusion that are mediated by partisanship. Empathy messages increase inclusionary attitudes on the part of Independents, significantly reducing anti-refugee and anti-Muslim preferences for those respondents. But among Republicans, we uncover negative treatment effects of both empathy and information on attitudes toward refugees. Democrats’ attitudes, on the other hand, are not moved by either treatment. Turning to behavioral outcomes, we find that our empathy treatment increases inclusionary behavior for Democrats, and that our information treatment engenders backlash among Republicans. Finally, we find that none of our treatment effects persist in time, due at least in part to a secular increase in inclusionary behavior on the part of Democrats as the 2016 presidential election neared. Together, our results have important implications for understanding what kinds of interventions increase inclusion, which ones create backlash, and how intervention effects differ across party lines.
The talk will be in English.
This series is sponsored by the Inter-university Centre for the Study of Democratic Citizenship (https://csdc-cecd.ca/) which is funded by the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture (FRQSC).