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Brother or Burden: An Experiment on Reducing Prejudice Toward Syrian Refugees in Turkey*

  • Egor Lazarev and Kunaal Sharma
  • Please note a correction has been issued for this article.


Can emphasis on shared religion reduce out-group prejudice? To explore this question, we conducted a survey experiment on the effect of religious primes on Turkish citizens’ attitudes and behavior toward Syrian refugees in Istanbul and Gaziantep. We used a factorial design to compare the independent and interactive effects of primes emphasizing refugees’ Sunni or Muslim identity and a factual statement on the economic cost of the refugees. We find that religious primes increase respondents’ level of donations to a charity supporting Syrian refugees and certain attitudinal measures of support for the refugees. We also uncovered a differential impact among the Sunni and Muslim primes and found that the statement of economic cost removed the pro-refugee effect of religious primes.



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Egor Lazarev is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Political Science, Columbia University, 420 West 118th Street, New York, NY 10027 ( Kunaal Sharma is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Political Science, Columbia University, 420 West 118th Street, New York, NY 10027 ( The authors are thankful to editors and reviewers, Magdalena Bennett-Colomer, Chris Blattman, Clava Brodsky, Ali Carkoglu, Daniel Corstange, Alex Coppock, Jerome Doyon, Florian Foos, Don Green, John Huber, Macartan Humphreys, Shanto Iyengar, Zeynep Keles, Yotam Margalit, Vera Mironova, Harsh Pandya, Serra Saridereli, Aslihan Saygili, Boris Sokolov, David Szakonyi and Kai Thaler for their insights and commentary. The authors are also grateful to Mustafa Akay, Oznur Arabaci, Ahmet Demircioglu, Ipek Erman, Busra Gecer, Elif Gundoglu, Ceren Gunel, Yusuf Gungor, Erdem Idil, Sabri Kalkar, Aycan Kararmaz, Ece Kocak, Cem Lafci, Erol Sayin, Yalcin Ucar and Fatma Zagrali for excellent research assistance. The authors thank the Center for the Study of Development Strategies at Columbia University for its financial support of our project. To view supplementary materials for this article, please visit



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Brother or Burden: An Experiment on Reducing Prejudice Toward Syrian Refugees in Turkey*

  • Egor Lazarev and Kunaal Sharma
  • Please note a correction has been issued for this article.


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