How Social Context Affects Immigration Attitudes

Adam J. Berinsky, Christopher F. Karpowitz, Zeyu Chris Peng, Jonathan A. Rodden, Cara J. Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Selection bias represents a persistent challenge to understanding the effects of social context on political attitudes. We attempt to overcome this challenge by focusing on a unique sample of individuals who were assigned to a new social context for an extended period, without control over the location they were sent: missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We interviewed a sample of 1,804 young people before and after their mission service in a diverse set of locations around the world and find strong evidence that the policy views of respondents became more tolerant toward undocumented immigrants when respondents were assigned to places where contact with immigrants was more likely. Within the United States, missionaries who served in communities with larger Hispanic populations, and those assigned to speak a language other than English, experienced the largest increases in pro-immigrant attitudes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)372-388
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Politics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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