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Institute for the Study of Citizens and Politics

Public Opinion & Globalization

This research agenda focuses on understanding the enormous chasm between how the public understands economic globalization, and how economists understand it. 

Related Studies

Edward Mansfield, Diana C. Mutz, Devon Brackbill. 2019. Effects of the Great Recession on American Attitudes toward Trade. British Journal of Political Science. 49: 37-58

Did the American public become more protectionist during the Great Recession of 2007-2009?  If so, why? During this period, many observers expressed concern that rising unemployment would stimulate protectionist pressures. Our results indicate that although increased unemployment did not have an across-the board effect on trade preferences, individuals working in import-competing industries who lost their jobs during the Great Recession did grow more hostile to trade. However, even greater rising hostility to overseas commerce stemmed from a variety of non-material factors. Increasing ethnocentrism and opposition to involvement in world affairs between 2007 and 2009 help to account for growing antipathy toward trade. Further, increasing concern that foreign commerce would harm people in the future, even if it had not done so thus far, contributed to growing opposition to trade among the American public during the economic downturn. 

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Diana C. Mutz. 2018. One Nation Under Siege

Working Paper. Article "One Nation Under Siege" and accompanying data. Article text will be posted after publication.

Mara-Cecilia Ostfeld. 2017. The Backyard Politics of Attitudes Toward Immigration.  Political Psychology. 38

Using two survey experiments, I reconsider the role that the racialized physical traits and level of assimilation of salient immigrants play in shaping attitudes toward immigration. In the first experiment, a nationwidevsample of 767 White, non-Latino adults was exposed to a story about a family of undocumented immigrants living in the Unites States who were at risk of deportation. Subjects were randomly assigned to view a version of the story in which the immigrants were depicted with light skin and stereotypically Eurocentric features, or dark skin and stereotypically Afrocentric features, and their level of assimilation to mainstream American culture was suggested to be high or low. Similar to previous research, the study’s results show that assimilation has a direct effect on attitudes toward immigration. Yet in contrast to previous studies, the racialized physical traits proved to be a much more important factor in shaping attitudes toward immigration than previously demonstrated. The role of an immigrant’s racialized physical traits was replicated in a second survey experiment of 902 White, non-Latino adults. Overall, the findings shed new light on how media depictions of immigrants are affecting immigration attitudes, as well as the nuanced ways that race continues to shape public opinion in the United States today.

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Diana C. Mutz, Edward Mansfield, Eunji Kim. 2017. Effects of Race on Attitudes toward International Trade: Economics or Symbolic Politics?

In multiple representative national surveys of American attitudes toward trade, minorities have been found to hold more favorable attitudes toward international trade than whites. This finding is puzzling in part because minorities are more likely to experience unemployment than whites. Moreover, the position of minorities in the national income and education distribution makes them an unlikely source of support for trade. In this study, we document the racial gap in trade opinions, drawing on multiple data sets spanning over a decade. In addition, we utilize decomposition analysis to examine why minorities are more supportive of trade than whites. In addition to economic theories, we draw on psychological explanations for trade support to solve this puzzle. Finally, using an extremely large national survey, we begin to disentangle which minority groups appear most likely to drive this effect.  

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Diana C. Mutz, Eunji Kim. 2017. Impact of In-group Favoritism on Trade Preferences. International Organization. 71: 827-850

Using  a  population-based  survey  experiment,  this  study  evaluates  the  role of  in-group  favoritism  in  influencing  American  attitudes  toward  international  trade.  By systematically  altering  which  countries  gain  or  lose  from  a  given  trade  policy (Americans  and/or  people  in  trading  partner  countries),  we  vary  the  role  that  in-group favoritism  should  play  in  influencing  preferences.

Our  results  provide  evidence  of  two  distinct  forms  of  in-group  favoritism.  The  first,  and  least  surprising,  is  that  Americans  value  the  well-being  of  other  Americans  more than  that  of  people  outside  their  own  country.  Rather  than  maximize  total  gains, Americans  choose  policies  that  maximize  in-group  well-being.  This  tendency  is  exacerbated  by  a  sense  of  national  superiority;  Americans  favor  their  national  in-group  to  a greater  extent  if  they  perceive  Americans  to  be  more  deserving.

Second,  high  levels  of  perceived  intergroup  competition  lead  some  Americans  to prefer  trade  policies  that  benefit  the  in-group  and  hurt  the  out-group  over  policies  that help  both  their  own  country  and  the  trading  partner  country.  For  a  policy  to  elicit support,  it  is  important  not  only  that  the  US  benefits,  but  also  that  the  trading  partner country  loses  so  that  the  US  achieves  a  greater  relative  advantage.  We  discuss  the  implications  of  these  findings  for  understanding  bipartisan  public  opposition  to  trade.

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Edward Mansfield, Diana C. Mutz, Laura Silver. 2015. Men, Women, Trade and Free Markets. International Studies Quarterly. 59: 303--315

In this paper, we provide one of the first systematic analyses of gender’s effect on trade attitudes. We draw on a unique representative national survey of American workers that allows us to evaluate a variety of potential explanations for gen- der differences in attitudes toward free trade and open markets more generally. We find that existing explanations for the gender gap, most notably differences between men and women in economic knowledge and differing material self- interests, do not explain the gap. Rather, the gender difference in trade preferences and attitudes about open markets is due to less favorable attitudes toward competition among women, less willingness to relocate for jobs among women, and more isolationist non-economic foreign policy attitudes among women. 

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Edward Mansfield, Diana C. Mutz. 2013. US vs. Them: Mass Attitudes toward Offshore Outsourcing. World Politics. 65: 571--608

This study shows that perceptions of national superiority are both manipulable and effective in promoting opposition to outsourcing.  

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Edward Mansfield, Diana C. Mutz. 2009. Support for Free Trade: Self-Interest, Sociotropic Politics, and Out-Group Anxiety. International Organization. 63: 425--457

Although it is widely acknowledged that an understanding of mass attitudes about trade is crucial to the political economy of foreign commerce, only a handful of studies have addressed this topic.  These studies have focused largely on testing two models, both of which emphasize that trade preferences are shaped by how trade affects an individual's income.  The factor endowments or Hecksher-Ohlin model posits that these preferences are affected primarily by a person's skills.  The specific factors or Ricardo-Viner model posits that trade preferences depend on the industry in which a person works.  We find little support for either of thesd two models using two representative national surveys of Americans.  The only potential exception involves the effects of education.  Initial tests indicate that eduational attainment and support for open free trade are directly related, which is often interpreted as support for the Hecksher-Ohlin model.  However, further analysis reveals that education's effects are less representative of skill than of individuals' anxieties about involvement with out-groups in their own country and beyond.  Furthermore, we find strong evidence that trade attitudes are guided less by material self-interest than by perceptions of how the U.S. economy as a whole is affected by trade.

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