Will conflict tear us apart? The effects of conflict and valenced media messages on polarizing attitudes toward EU immigration and border control
Number of pages
SourcePublic Opinion Quarterly, 81, 2, (2017), pp. 543-563
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ RSCR SOC
Public Opinion Quarterly
SubjectInstitute for Management Research; Inequality Cohesion Rationalization; Ongelijkheid Cohesie Rationalisatie
European migration and border control has occupied a prominent spot on the European political agenda. The news media present the topic in a polarized fashion and reports conflicting viewpoints on how the European Union (EU) and national governments should address the issue. We argue that this conflict in news messages can have a polarizing effect on public perceptions regarding the EU's performance on this topic, and that this effect can be moderated by the valence of news messages. A two-wave online panel survey experiment was conducted on a representative sample of the Dutch population (n = 376). The results indicate that conflict reinforces and thus polarizes policy attitudes, whereas a message's valence can change people's attitudes, which reduces the attitudinal gap. The implications of these findings concerning European border control and migration are discussed in the final section of this paper.
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