A review of experimental evidence of how communication affects attitudes to immigration

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The need for strategic communication in migration policymaking is increasingly widely recognised. Whereas until recently there was relatively little academic evidence of what forms of immigration communication are effective, the past few years have seen a large amount of new experimental evidence. This article overviews 68 experimental studies, as well as other relevant studies, categorising their findings into nine common communication strategies. Appealing to common interest rather than self-interest, appealing to conformity rather than diversity, migrant descriptions, appealing to common ground, and appealing to empathy are consistently shown to be effective. Fact-checking of the effects of migration and appealing to emotions are mostly shown to be effective, as is appealing to identity where applicable. By contrast, appealing to diversity is consistently shown to be ineffective, while correcting information about migrant stocks and appeals to self-interest are mostly shown to be ineffective. Overall, this review article supports psychological findings regarding attitudinal formation that emphasise sociotropic considerations of the effects of immigration, economic or otherwise, on the collective while offering weaker support for egocentric approaches.
Original languageEnglish
Article number35
JournalComparative Migration Studies
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2022


  • Attitudes to immigration
  • Experimental evidence
  • Migration communication
  • Narratives
  • Perceptions

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