"How Much is One American Worth? How Competition Affects Trade Preferences." American Political Science Review, 2020.

Diana C. Mutz and Amber Hye-Yon Lee

When forming opinions, mass publics may implicitly or explicitly value some people’s well-being more than others. Here we examine how two forms of this phenomenon—ethnocentric valuation and moral exclusion—affect attitudes toward international trade. We hypothesize that attitudes toward competition and believing that trade is a competition moderate the extent of ethnocentric valuation and moral exclusion; although all citizens value their co-nationals’ livelihoods systematically more than those of people in trading partner countries, greater ethnocentric valuation and moral exclusion occur when trade is seen as a competition and when individuals hold more positive attitudes toward competition.

Using two survey experiments conducted on representative samples of both Americans and Canadians, we examine how differential valuation of in-country and out-country job gains and losses influences trade policy preferences. We test a series of hypotheses using multiple variables tied to competitive attitudes across two countries that differ in their attitudes toward competition.