Public opinion on migrants: The effect of information and disinformation about EU policies

There is a tremendous increase in fake news on migration, particularly through online and social media in Europe and across the world. But what effect does this have on public opinion on migrants? As summarized in our first brief, recent studies uncover that the negative public attitudes are related to extensive media coverage, while the effect of media coverage on public opinion vary across medium and scale (local versus national media). Social experiments draw attention to different individual factors in shaping what we observe as “public opinion,” ranging from one’s empathy level, already existing partisanship to geographical proximity to newcomers.

This brief is a summary of our interview with two key experts in migration governance and public opinion in Europe: Dr. Leila Hadj Abdou, Teaching and Research Fellow at Migration Policy Center in European University Institute; and Dr. Lenka Dražanová, Research Associate at the Observatory of Public Attitudes to Migration (OPAM) project.

In the light of recent developments in this field and their own research, we asked Dr. Leila Hadj Abdou and Dr. Lenka Dražanová to comment specifically on the factors that drive changes in public opinion, including media framing and dis/information, and on what issues need further research and feedback from different stakeholders.