Once We Too Were Strangers: Can a Heritage of Displacement be Leveraged to Build Support for Present-Day Refugees?

107 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2023

See all articles by Nicholas Sambanis

Nicholas Sambanis

Department of Political Science, Yale University

Matthew Simonson

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

şule yaylacı

University of British Columbia (UBC)

Date Written: July 13, 2023

Abstract

Prior studies suggest that subtle messaging interventions can reduce prejudice by stimulating perspective-taking. For instance, there is evidence that reminding citizens of their family’s experiences with displacement can induce empathy toward refugees. We test the generalizability of this treatment in five new studies in Cyprus, Turkey, and Greece, and find no evidence that descendants of displaced Turks, Greeks, or Greek Cypriots become more sympathetic toward refugees when a comparison to their own family experiences is drawn. In some cases, they become more hostile. Our study raises doubts about the scalability of this strategy to reduce anti-refugee bias. Drawing ingroup-outgroup parallels generates context-specific effects and does not move policy attitudes. We conclude by discussing the practical limitations of light-touch interventions and calling for more research on how prejudice-reduction interventions can be scaled.

Keywords: immigration; refugees; perspective-taking; prejudice-reduction

JEL Classification: D19, D63, D74, O15

Suggested Citation

Sambanis, Nicholas and Simonson, Matthew and yaylacı, şule, Once We Too Were Strangers: Can a Heritage of Displacement be Leveraged to Build Support for Present-Day Refugees? (July 13, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4509421 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4509421

Nicholas Sambanis (Contact Author)

Department of Political Science, Yale University ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

Matthew Simonson

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Şule Yaylacı

University of British Columbia (UBC) ( email )

2329 West Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia BC V6T 1Z4
Canada

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