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Fear and Learning in the Illegal Immigration Debate
Unformatted Document Text:  Ad content Images/music Control condition Information only “The US census bureau defines immigration as....” None Exploitation condition Negative – immigrant rights “There are 230,000 immigrants a year in detention including the sick and elderly.” Threatening (suffering of immigrants) Fear of immigrants condition Negative – costs of immigration “Illegal immigrants make up 30 percent of the federal prison population” Threatening (costs of immigration) Since we are primarily interested in the way that immigration worries influence what respondents read, we created an information environment in order to better track actual behavior. In this controlled political environment, we can verify information consumption and accurately measure the content of exposure (Lau and Redlawsk 2001a). Self reported media consumption measures overestimate media exposure significantly - by up to 3 times for television news viewership and 6 percentage points for magazine subscriptions (Prior 2008; Vavreck 2007), suggesting that measuring actual behavior is superior to relying on self reports. After viewing one of the immigration ads, subjects viewed a page with 6 newspaper headlines and were asked to read any of the news stories. The 6 stories were divided up into 4 stories on immigration 11

Authors: Gadarian, Shana. and Albertson, Bethany.
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background image
Ad
content
Images/music

Control
condition
Information only
“The US census bureau
defines immigration
as....”

None


Exploitation
condition
Negative – immigrant
rights

“There are 230,000
immigrants a year in
detention including the
sick and elderly.”

Threatening
(suffering of immigrants)

Fear of
immigrants
condition
Negative – costs of
immigration

“Illegal immigrants
make up 30 percent of
the federal prison
population”

Threatening
(costs of immigration)
Since we are primarily interested in the way that immigration worries influence what
respondents read, we created an information environment in order to better track actual behavior.
In this controlled political environment, we can verify information consumption and accurately
measure the content of exposure (Lau and Redlawsk 2001a). Self reported media consumption
measures overestimate media exposure significantly - by up to 3 times for television news
viewership and 6 percentage points for magazine subscriptions (Prior 2008; Vavreck 2007),
suggesting that measuring actual behavior is superior to relying on self reports. After viewing
one of the immigration ads, subjects viewed a page with 6 newspaper headlines and were asked
to read any of the news stories. The 6 stories were divided up into 4 stories on immigration
11


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