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Fear and Learning in the Illegal Immigration Debate
Unformatted Document Text:  Experimental design To test how anxiety about immigration influences information processing and attitudes, we designed an experiment that manipulated anxiety about immigration through threatening ads. Subjects were randomly assigned to view one of three videos. In the control condition, subjects watched a 58 second video with census information about immigration, with no music or pictures. In our treatment conditions we relied on campaign ads that included evocative visuals and dramatic music, as in Brader (2005, 2006), to evoke fear about the effects of immigration on both the country and immigrants themselves. There are two treatment conditions based on our previous work in which we asked our respondents to summon their own anxiety about immigration and found that two distinct types of worries emerged (Gadarian and Albertson 2008). The first worry alluded to the economic and social impact of immigrants on the United States and echoed the majority of popular rhetoric about immigration. The second set of worries concerned exploitation and discrimination against immigrants themselves, a worry far less common in mainstream media discussions about immigration. To evaluate whether the content of threatening messages mattered for information processing, we created two separate ads that focused on either the fear of immigration message or the exploitation message. The threatening ads used the same dramatic music while varying the images and information about immigration. Table 1 below highlights some of the differences between these conditions. 10

Authors: Gadarian, Shana. and Albertson, Bethany.
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Experimental design
To test how anxiety about immigration influences information processing and attitudes,
we designed an experiment that manipulated anxiety about immigration through threatening ads.
Subjects were randomly assigned to view one of three videos. In the control condition, subjects
watched a 58 second video with census information about immigration, with no music or
pictures. In our treatment conditions we relied on campaign ads that included evocative visuals
and dramatic music, as in Brader (2005, 2006), to evoke fear about the effects of immigration on
both the country and immigrants themselves. There are two treatment conditions based on our
previous work in which we asked our respondents to summon their own anxiety about
immigration and found that two distinct types of worries emerged (Gadarian and Albertson
2008). The first worry alluded to the economic and social impact of immigrants on the United
States and echoed the majority of popular rhetoric about immigration. The second set of worries
concerned exploitation and discrimination against immigrants themselves, a worry far less
common in mainstream media discussions about immigration. To evaluate whether the content
of threatening messages mattered for information processing, we created two separate ads that
focused on either the fear of immigration message or the exploitation message. The threatening
ads used the same dramatic music while varying the images and information about immigration.
Table 1 below highlights some of the differences between these conditions.
10


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