“…our field wasn’t ready for a pandemic. We had no behavioral playbook on nudges, defaults, and other strategies for improving social distancing, mask use, remote learning, home-based work, and social transfers.”
When policymakers consider how to respond to a public health crisis, they tend to think in terms of quarantines, medical equipment supplies, and travel restrictions. Yet they too often miss a vital factor that countries like South Korea and Singapore recognized long ago—that public communications are just as crucial. Effective communication increases compliance with public health directives and saves lives.
At a time when people have more information at their fingertips than ever, it feels as though it has become equally easy to share it widely or to ignore, discount, and discredit it. Several factors have contributed to this state of affairs. New technologies have given a platform to a wider range of voices, but this has also meant that unvetted information and politically motivated “fake news” find their way more easily into the bloodstream of public debate. Human nature also shapes how people consume and recall information, making them more likely to resist information that contradicts their existing beliefs and personal experiences.
Nowhere has this been more apparent than in debates about hot-button issues such as immigration. Whether in the run-up to the 2016 UK referendum on Brexit, elections across Europe and North America, or responses to the 2015–16 European refugee and migration crisis, emotionally charged and anecdotal narratives about immigrants, refugees, and their effects on receiving communities often seemed to drown out arguments made on the basis of robust data and evidence.
Yet policymaking in democratic societies relies on the engagement of an electorate able to access and think critically about new information, and to adjust their views accordingly. This report explores why there is often a pronounced gap between what research has shown about migration trends and immigration policy outcomes and what the public believes. To do so, it explores the social psychological literature on why people embrace or reject information, as well as recent changes in the media landscape. The report concludes with a reexamination of what it takes to make the “expert consensus” on these issues resonate with sceptical publics, including recommendations for policymakers and researchers seeking to communicate more effectively the costs and benefits of immigration.
Click here for full report.
This report aims to include the voices of technology practitioners whose work is focused on social justice, the common good, and/or the public interest. Every day, technology practitioners in government agencies, nonprofit organizations, colleges and universities, libraries, technology cooperatives, volunteer networks, and social movement organizations work to develop, deploy, and maintain digital technology in ways that directly benefit their communities. These practitioners include software developers, designers, and project managers, as well as researchers, policy advocates, community organizers, city officials, and people in many other roles.
#MoreThanCode aims to make the voices of these diverse practitioners heard. The report’s goals are to
I. explore the current ecosystem;
II. expand understanding of practitioner demographics;
III. develop and share knowledge of practitioner experiences;
IV. capture practitioner visions and values; and
V. document stories of success and failure.
The report focuses primarily on practitioners who work in the United States.