Increasing Immigrant Inclusion: Family History, Empathy, and Immigration in the United States

Immigration Policy Lab, Working Paper No. 20-01, February 2020

40 Pages Posted: 18 Mar 2020

See all articles by Scott Williamson

Scott Williamson

Stanford University

Claire L. Adida

University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

Adeline Lo

Princeton University

Melina Platas

New York University (NYU) - New York University Abu Dhabi

Lauren Prather

Stanford University - Department of Political Science

Seth H. Werfel

Stanford University, Department of Political Science

Date Written: February 14, 2020

Abstract

Immigration is a highly polarized issue in the United States, and negative attitudes toward immigrants are common. Yet, almost all Americans are descended from people who originated outside the United States. Can this common history overcome the intense polarization that migration policy elicits? In this paper, we draw from recent studies showing that perspective taking decreases prejudice toward out-groups to investigate whether priming Americans on their own immigration history induces more support for immigrants and immigration. We test this hypothesis with three separate survey experiments conducted over the past two years. Our findings show that priming family history - a light touch intervention - generates small but consistent inclusionary effects on attitudes toward immigrants and immigration policy. These effects are immediate, and occur even among partisan subgroups and Americans who approve of President Trump. Furthermore, we provide evidence that increased empathy for immigrants constitutes the mechanism driving these effects. Our consistent results contribute to growing experimental literature on prejudice reduction and migration by suggesting an important role for empathy in shifting attitudes toward immigration.

Keywords: Migration, Empathy, Immigration, Refugees, Public Opinion

Suggested Citation

Williamson, Scott and Adida, Claire L. and Lo, Adeline and Platas, Melina and Prather, Lauren and Werfel, Seth H., Increasing Immigrant Inclusion: Family History, Empathy, and Immigration in the United States (February 14, 2020). Immigration Policy Lab, Working Paper No. 20-01, February 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3541943 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3541943

Scott Williamson

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Claire L. Adida (Contact Author)

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Mail Code 0521
La Jolla, CA 92093-0521
United States

HOME PAGE: http://claire.adida.net

Adeline Lo

Princeton University ( email )

Corwin Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544-1013
United States

Melina Platas

New York University (NYU) - New York University Abu Dhabi ( email )

PO Box 129188
Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates

HOME PAGE: http://melinaplatas.com

Lauren Prather

Stanford University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Seth H. Werfel

Stanford University, Department of Political Science ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.sethwerfel.net

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
150
Abstract Views
544
rank
217,980
PlumX Metrics