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How deeply held are anti-American attitudes among Pakistani youth? Evidence using experimental variation in information

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  • Adeline Delavande
  • Basit Zafar

Abstract

This paper investigates how attitudes toward the United States are affected by the provision of information. We use an experimentally generated panel of attitudes, obtained by providing urban Pakistanis with fact-based statements describing the United States in either a positive or negative light. Anti-American sentiment is high and heterogenous in our sample at the baseline. We find that revised attitudes are, on average, significantly different from baseline attitudes, indicating that providing information had a meaningful effect on U.S. favorability. Observed revisions are a consequence of both the salience of already known information and information acquisition that leads to a convergence in attitudes across respondents with different priors. This analysis provides evidence that (i) public opinions are not purely a cultural phenomenon and are malleable, and (ii) the tendency of respondents to ignore information not aligned with their priors can be overcome. Our findings make the case for dissemination of accurate information about various aspects of the Pakistan-U.S. relationship in order to improve opinion toward the United States.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of New York in its series Staff Reports with number 558.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:558

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Related research

Keywords: Stereotype (Psychology) ; Human behavior ; Disclosure of information ; Information theory;

References

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  1. Alberto Abadie, 2006. "Poverty, Political Freedom, and the Roots of Terrorism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 50-56, May.
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  12. Sendhil Mullainathan & Andrei Shleifer, 2002. "Media Bias," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1981, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  13. Adeline Delavande & Basit Zafar, 2013. "Gender discrimination and social identity: experimental evidence from urban Pakistan," Staff Reports 593, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  14. Ebonya Washington & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2009. "Sticking with Your Vote: Cognitive Dissonance and Political Attitudes," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 86-111, January.
  15. Adeline Delavande & Basit Zafar, 2011. "Stereotypes and madrassas: experimental evidence from Pakistan," Staff Reports 501, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  16. Alan B. Krueger, 2009. "Attitudes and Action: Public Opinion and the Occurrence of International Terrorism," Working Papers 1100, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
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