Can Empathy-Based Media Campaigns Reduce Anti-Immigrant Sentiment? Experimental Evidence on Attitudes towards Central American Immigrants in Mexico

Ford Program Project
Grant Year

The research examines the immigrant humanitarian crisis in Mexico City and the pressures of the exodus of Central Americans into Mexican territory heading to the United States. Partnering with one of the largest humanitarian organizations in the world, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), this project examines interventions that effectively promote Mexican citizens’ support for and solidarity with immigrants in Mexico and raises critical questions, chiefly how empathy-based media campaign narratives reduce prejudice toward Central Americans in Mexico and foster support for pro-immigrant policies as well as altruistic behavior. With Ford Program funding, over ten days in Tapachula, Abby and Natán conducted more than 50 in-depth interviews with migrant advocates and directors of shelters, as well as migrants from Africa, Haiti, Cuba, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Venezuela who were living in tents in public squares, in overcrowded rented spaces, or civic migrant shelters. Preliminary findings reveal significant positive impacts of empathy-based media campaigns and advocacy in shaping positive relations among refugees, migrants, and host communities.


Partners: International Committee of the Red Cross