Anxiety, immigration, and the search for information

Shana Kushner Gadarian, Bethany Albertson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Scopus citations


In this article, we use the issue of immigration to explore the role of anxiety in responses to political appeals. According to previous literature, anxiety motivates citizens to learn and pay more attention to news coverage. Literature in psychology demonstrates that anxiety is associated with a tendency to pay closer attention to threatening information. We predict that anxious citizens will seek more information but that they will seek out and be attracted to threatening information. In an experiment, we induce anxiety about immigration and then subjects have the opportunity to search for additional information in a website designed to mimic online news sources. The website has both immigration and nonimmigration stories, and the immigration stories are split between threatening coverage and nonthreatening coverage. We find that anxious subjects exhibit biased information processing; they read, remember, and agree with threatening information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-164
Number of pages32
JournalPolitical Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • Emotion
  • Experiment
  • Immigration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


Dive into the research topics of 'Anxiety, immigration, and the search for information'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this