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Fear and Learning in the Illegal Immigration Debate
Unformatted Document Text:  rights more generally. We predict that for African Americans, the threatening appeal will trigger anti-immigration attitudes. Blacks’ attitudes are unmoved by either the fear condition or the exploitation condition. Although African American subjects do display biased information processing by recalling more negative information in the fear and exploitation conditions than in the control condition and reading significantly fewer positive stories in the exploitation condition, the bias in information did not in turn influence attitudes. While African American subjects did recall more negative information in the fear condition, their engagement with the information was ambivalent, which may have led respondents attitudes in opposite directions after viewing the same information. Overall, we find that while black respondents pay close attention to negative information about immigration, they are unmoved to update their immigration attitudes in the face of this threatening information. Figure 2: African American’ immigration attitudes Policy attitudes (Blacks only) 2.38 3.51 0.63 2.38 3.53 0.67 2.12 3.32 0.71 0.00 1.00 2.00 3.00 4.00 Entitlement programs Humanitarianism Border Security El ig ib ility/ spendin g Control (n=51) Exploitation (n=48) Fear of immigrants (n=49) Partisanship as a moderator of immigration attitudes To test the hypothesis that anxiety may not in fact override partisanship in attitude formation, we divide white subjects by partisanship and look at the differences in opinion across 28

Authors: Gadarian, Shana. and Albertson, Bethany.
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rights more generally. We predict that for African Americans, the threatening appeal will trigger
anti-immigration attitudes.
Blacks’ attitudes are unmoved by either the fear condition or the exploitation condition.
Although African American subjects do display biased information processing by recalling more
negative information in the fear and exploitation conditions than in the control condition and
reading significantly fewer positive stories in the exploitation condition, the bias in information
did not in turn influence attitudes. While African American subjects did recall more negative
information in the fear condition, their engagement with the information was ambivalent, which
may have led respondents attitudes in opposite directions after viewing the same information.
Overall, we find that while black respondents pay close attention to negative information about
immigration, they are unmoved to update their immigration attitudes in the face of this
threatening information.
Figure 2: African American’ immigration attitudes
Policy attitudes (Blacks only)
2.38
3.51
0.63
2.38
3.53
0.67
2.12
3.32
0.71
0.00
1.00
2.00
3.00
4.00
Entitlement programs
Humanitarianism
Border Security
El
ig
ib
il
it
y/
s
p
e
n
d
in
g
Control (n=51)
Exploitation (n=48)
Fear of immigrants (n=49)
Partisanship as a moderator of immigration attitudes
To test the hypothesis that anxiety may not in fact override partisanship in attitude
formation, we divide white subjects by partisanship and look at the differences in opinion across
28


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