BRIDGES Working paper nº 29

The influence of narratives on subsequent narratives about immigration. Individuals as Narratively Shaped Shapers of Reality

Publication date:
José J. Pizarro Carrasco, Juan-José Igartua, and Verónica Benet-Martíne

BRIDGES Working paper nº 29 (January 2024)

This report presents an analysis on the psychological impact of different narrative frames in testimonial narratives on individuals in Spain and Hungary, focusing on the domain of migration. In two large-scale, pre-registered online experiments, participants from Spain and Hungary were exposed to testimonial narratives framed in three different forms: depicting immigrants as a Profiteer, a Victim, or a Hero. The narratives were carefully crafted, varying in frame, protagonist's origin, and narrative voice, and after reading them, participants were asked to elaborate a message to share in social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram). Participants’ messages (i.e., subsequent narratives) were analyzed for emotional tone, linguistic style, and thematic content using tools like the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) software and the NRC emotion lexicon. Results revealed that narrative frames significantly influenced participants' emotional responses and narrative constructions. In the Spanish context, the Hero frame elicited more positive emotional tones and analytical thinking, while the Victim frame induced a sense of community and shared experience. Conversely, the Hungarian responses, while showing similar trends, exhibited more uniform linguistic patterns across frames, with a pronounced focus on individual scrutiny in the Profiteer frame, manifesting a cross-cultural influence on narrative perception and construction. The studies presented here contribute to our understanding of narrative persuasion, emphasizing the power of framing in shaping cognitive and emotional responses. It underscores the need for considering cultural particularities in narrative construction, specifically in the context of migration, and open avenues for future research on narrative influence in shaping public opinion and policy.

Keywords: Testimonial Narratives, Immigration, Intergroup Relations, Framing, Natural Language, Linguistic Analyses