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Fear and Learning in the Illegal Immigration Debate
Unformatted Document Text:  The average respondent read 2.5 stories out of 6 possible stories; 18% of the respondents read no stories while 26% read 4 or more of the stories presented. It does not seem to be the case that ads in either treatment condition motivated subjects to read more information than those in the control condition. Subjects who were exposed to the fear video were no different from the control condition in tendency to read stories (2.56 vs. 2.55, n.s.), while subjects exposed to the exploitation video were slightly less likely to read stories (2.25, p<.10). Comparing the amount of seconds subjects spent reading stories, we find no significant differences by experimental condition (control vs. exploitation: 303.9 vs. 237.4, n.s., control vs. fear: 303.9 vs. 297.8, n.s.) Contra to the AI theory, by looking at these measures of information exposure, we cannot conclude that anxiety about immigration leads respondents to simply increase the amount of information that they are gathering. A clearer way to differentiate our expectations from those of the AI theory is to look more specifically at the types of stories that respondents read when given the choice between negative and positive stories. As a reminder, respondents could choose among 2 positive immigration stories, 2 negative immigration stories, and 2 non-immigration stories. Table 3 displays the average proportion time spent on stories that were negative or positive about immigration by treatment condition, and the proportion of total stories remembered that were negative or positive. This analysis is also broken down by racial groups. 14

Authors: Gadarian, Shana. and Albertson, Bethany.
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The average respondent read 2.5 stories out of 6 possible stories; 18% of the respondents
read no stories while 26% read 4 or more of the stories presented. It does not seem to be the case
that ads in either treatment condition motivated subjects to read more information than those in
the control condition. Subjects who were exposed to the fear video were no different from the
control condition in tendency to read stories (2.56 vs. 2.55, n.s.), while subjects exposed to the
exploitation video were slightly less likely to read stories (2.25, p<.10). Comparing the amount
of seconds subjects spent reading stories, we find no significant differences by experimental
condition (control vs. exploitation: 303.9 vs. 237.4, n.s., control vs. fear: 303.9 vs. 297.8, n.s.)
Contra to the AI theory, by looking at these measures of information exposure, we cannot
conclude that anxiety about immigration leads respondents to simply increase the amount of
information that they are gathering.
A clearer way to differentiate our expectations from those of the AI theory is to look
more specifically at the types of stories that respondents read when given the choice between
negative and positive stories. As a reminder, respondents could choose among 2 positive
immigration stories, 2 negative immigration stories, and 2 non-immigration stories. Table 3
displays the average proportion time spent on stories that were negative or positive about
immigration by treatment condition, and the proportion of total stories remembered that were
negative or positive. This analysis is also broken down by racial groups.
14


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