Information and anti-American attitudes

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Journal Article
Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 2018, 149 pp. 1 - 31
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© 2018 Elsevier B.V. This paper investigates how attitudes towards the United States are affected by provision of information. We generate a “panel” of attitudes in urban Pakistan, in which respondents are randomly exposed to fact-based statements describing the US in either a positive or negative light. Anti-American sentiment is high and heterogenous in our sample at the baseline, and systematically correlated with intended behavior (such as intended migration to the US). We find that revised attitudes are significantly different from baseline attitudes: attitudes are, on average, revised upward (downward) upon receipt of positive (negative) information, indicating that providing information had a meaningful effect on US favorability. The within-subject design and data on respondents’ priors allows us to investigate the underlying mechanisms. We find that revisions are largely a result of salience-based updating. We reject unbiased information-based updating as the only source of revisions. In addition, a substantial proportion of individuals do not respond to the information. This heterogeneity in revision processes means that there is no convergence in attitudes following the provision of information.
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