Reacting to Neighborhood Cues? Political Sophistication Moderates the Effect of Exposure to Immigrants

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Bolette Danckert, Peter Thisted Dinesen, Kim Mannemar Sønderskov

Drawing on insights from political psychology regarding political information processing, this paper argues that politically sophisticated individuals are less sensitive to the social cues manifested in the ethnic composition of their neighborhood when they form political opinions. This prediction is founded on politically sophisticated individuals having a greater comprehension of news and other mass-mediated sources, which makes them less likely to rely on neighborhood cues as sources of information relevant for political attitudes. Based on a unique panel data set with fine-grained information about the ethnic composition of the immediate neighborhood, the paper finds consistent support for the hypothesis: While neighborhood exposure to non-Western immigrants reduces anti-immigration attitudes among individuals with low political sophistication, there is no effect among individuals with high political sophistication. These results thus partially support contact theory and demonstrate that integrating the information processing and ethnic diversity literatures enhances our understanding of outgroup exposure effects.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPublic Opinion Quarterly
Volume81
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)37-56
ISSN0033-362X
Publication statusPublished - 2017

ID: 157550101