American Responses to the Syrian Refugee Crisis

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Principal investigator:

Daniel Corstange

Columbia University



Sample size: 2073

Field period: 04/29/2016-12/16/2016

This project examines how the framing of the Syrian civil war affects Americans' description of the Syrian refugee crisis and willingness to host Syrian refugees. It randomizes descriptions of the the conflict given to subjects as combinations of democracy versus dictatorship, sectarianism, and religious extremism. Its outcomes include a closed-response question on willingness to accept refugees in the United States, and an open-ended response that asks subjects to describe the conflict in their own words.

1. People receiving a single frame will describe the conflict in terms employed by that frame.

2. People receiving competing frames will ignore the frame content when describing the conflict.

3. People receiving the frame citing democracy and dictatorship will be more welcoming of refugees.

4. People receiving the frame citing moderates and religious extremists will be less welcoming of refugees.

Experimental Manipulations

Subjects are prompted to consider the Syrian civil war with the following prompt: "People have explained the Syrian conflict in a number of different ways. For example, some have described it as a conflict between X, and other people have described it as a conflict between Y."

The three manipulations are: "democracy and dictatorship"; "moderates and religious extremists"; "the majority population of Sunnis and religious minorities such as Shiites, Alawites, and Christians"


1. description of the conflict (open response)

2. willingness to accept Syrian refugees in United States (closed response)

Summary of Results
null effects