How news content influences anti-immigration attitudes: Germany, 1993-2005

Hajo G. Boomgaarden, Rens Vliegenthart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

243 Citations (Scopus)


Immigration is an increasingly important political issue in Western democracies and a crucial question relates to the antecedents of public attitudes towards immigrants. It is generally acknowledged that information relayed through the mass media plays a role in the formation of anti-immigration attitudes. This study considers whether news coverage of immigrants and immigration issues relates to macro-level dynamics of anti-immigration attitudes. It further explores whether this relationship depends on variation in relevant real world contexts. The models simultaneously control for the effects of established contextual explanatory variables. Drawing on German monthly time-series data and on ARIMA time-series modeling techniques, it is shown that both the frequency and the tone of coverage of immigrant actors in the news significantly influence dynamics in anti-immigration attitudes. The strength of the effect of the news, however, depends on contextual variation in immigration levels and the number of asylum seekers. Implications of these findings are discussed in the light of the increasing success of extreme right parties and growing opposition to further European integration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)516-542
Number of pages27
JournalEuropean Journal of Political Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes


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