PRFDHR Seminar: Combining Perspective-getting with Information Delivery to Increase Public Support for Refugees, Professor Scott R. Williamson

Event time: 
Tuesday, April 26, 2022 - 2:30pm to 3:45pm
Location: 
Henry R. Luce Hall LUCE, 203 See map
34 Hillhouse Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511
Speaker/Performer: 
Scott R. Williamson, Università Bocconi - Department of Social and Political Sciences
Event description: 

Many Americans hold negative views of refugees, and misinformation about refugees is a common feature of American politics. Nonetheless, we know relatively little about the accuracy of Americans’ perceptions of the US refugee population, and whether countering misinformation can shape attitudes toward refugees and refugee policy. Professor Scott Williamson addresses these questions by first implementing a survey measuring Americans’ knowledge about refugees in the United States. He finds that Americans are surprisingly well-informed about the refugee population in general. However, the survey respondents overestimated the security threat posed by refugees and underestimated the vetting they receive from the US government. Next, he conducted a survey experiment testing whether information about the refugee vetting process could shift views of refugees, and whether this information would be more effective when embedded in a perspective-getting narrative about the experience of coming to the United States as a refugee. Professor Williamson finds that the correct information caused respondents to update their views of the vetting process but did not affect broader attitudes toward refugees. However, exposure to the perspective-getting treatment did increase positive attitudes toward refugees and pro-refugee policies, while combining information and perspective-getting caused both updating and more positive attitudes. These results contribute to understanding of the relative effectiveness of different prejudice reduction strategies and have practical implications for advocates and policymakers working on refugee issues.
Scott Williamson is an assistant professor of social and political sciences at Bocconi University. He received his PhD in political science from Stanford University and was a postdoctoral research fellow at New York University Abu Dhabi. Professor Williamson’s research addresses questions related to authoritarianism, human rights, and refugees, particularly in the Middle East. His work has been published by academic journals including the American Political Science Review, Comparative Political Studies, and the Journal of Peace Research, as well as by outlets such as the Washington Post, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the Baker Institute for Public Policy.

Admission: 
Free but register in advance