Willnat co-authors paper on political polarization around immigration news

Lars Willnat, professor of communications and John Ben Snow Endowed Research Chair, co-authored the paper, “Media Use and Affective Political Polarization: What Shapes Public Perceptions of Immigrants’ Deservingness?” with Christine Ogan of Indiana University and Jian Shi of the Academy of Contemporary China and World Studies. The paper was published in the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media.


This study explores the connections between partisan news exposure, affective political polarization, perceived threats from migrants, and immigrant deservingness. Data from a 2018 U.S. national survey indicate that exposure to immigration news on Fox News is associated with higher levels of polarization among Republicans and Democrats, while exposure to such content on CNN is not. Additionally, greater polarization correlates with Republicans perceiving more threats from migrants, while Democrats perceive fewer. Finally, Republicans with higher levels of polarization are more likely than polarized Democrats to believe that migrants should have specific qualifications to be considered deserving.