Easing the heavy hand: Humanitarian concern, empathy, and opinion on immigration


We assess the impact of humanitarianism, which is a core prosocial orientation, on public preferences for government immigration policy. Analyzing nationally representative survey data and a survey experiment, we demonstrate that humanitarian concern significantly decreases support for restrictive immigration policy. Our experiment reveals that in a media environment evoking both immigration threat and countervailing humanitarian concerns, the latter can and does override the former. Finally, our results point to the importance of individual differences in empathy in moderating the effects of threat and humanitarian inducements.

British Journal of Political Science