Lars Willnat, professor of communications and John Ben Snow Endowed Research Chair, co-authored the paper, “Covid-19 and xenophobia in America: media exposure, anti-Asian stigmatization, and deservingness of Asian immigrants” with Jian Shi of the Academy of Contemporary China and World Studies and David De Coninck of the Centre for Sociological Research & Institute for Media Studies. The paper was published in Asian Journal of Communication.
Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020, there has been a significant uptick in anti-Asian sentiment in the United States. Many believe these racist attitudes are cultivated by polarizing political messages and news coverage of the pandemic. Based on a 2021 online survey conducted among 913 White Americans, this study examines possible associations between exposure to pandemic-related news, anti-Asian stigmatization, and the perceived deservingness of Asian immigrants. The findings indicate that the consumption of pandemic-related news on Fox News and social media is associated with higher levels of anti-Asian stigmatization, while exposure to such news on traditional media outlets is not. As expected, respondents with higher levels of anti-Asian stigmatization perceive Asian immigrants as less deserving to come to the United States. Among the five criteria of a newly developed immigrant deservingness scale, especially identity, attitude, and need are associated with anti-Asian stigmatization.