The Muted Consequences of Correct Information About Immigration

12 Pages Posted: 23 Jun 2016 Last revised: 4 May 2018

See all articles by Daniel J. Hopkins

Daniel J. Hopkins

University of Pennsylvania

John Sides

George Washington University - Department of Political Science

Jack Citrin

University of California, Berkeley

Date Written: March 26, 2018

Abstract

Previous research shows that people commonly exaggerate the size of minority populations. Theories of inter-group threat predict that the larger people perceive minority groups to be, the less favorably they feel toward them. We investigate whether correcting Americans' misperceptions about one such population --- immigrants --- affects related attitudes. We confirm that non-Hispanic Americans over-estimate the percentage of the population that is foreign-born or in the U.S. without authorization. However, in seven separate survey experiments over 11 years, we find that providing accurate information does little to affect attitudes toward immigration, even though it does reduce the perceived size of the foreign-born population. 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.

Keywords: Public opinion; immigration; survey experiments; information; innumeracy

Suggested Citation

Hopkins, Daniel J. and Sides, John and Citrin, Jack, The Muted Consequences of Correct Information About Immigration (March 26, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2798622 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2798622

Daniel J. Hopkins (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Stiteler Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.danhopkins.org

John Sides

George Washington University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Washington, DC 20052
United States

Jack Citrin

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

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