The public outcry that followed President Trump’s “Muslim Ban” made headlines as thousands protested the ruling in airports across the country.
The order was soon struck down by the federal court, but the flood of information and emotion in opposition to the ban created a shift in public opinion, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of California, Riverside, Michigan State University, and the University of Delaware found that the rhetoric calling the ruling “un-American” on social media and news coverage after the executive order was signed actually increased opposition to the ban.
The researchers describe the shift as caused by “an influx of information portraying the ban as being at odds with egalitarian principles of American identity and religious liberty.”
According to the study, in this rare instance public opinion on a major issue was influenced by the institution of American values like liberty and freedom of religion that many consider central to their identity.
The study was published in the journal Political Behavior and the results were based on two surveys of the same group of people.
311 people were surveyed both before and after the ban was announced and put into effect. The second survey, two weeks after the order was signed, showed more than 30 percent of responders changed their minds and opposed the order.
Those whose opinions most drastically shifted considered American values a core part of their identity and were influenced by the anti-American nature of the ban that the media portrayed.
Several news anchors, commentators, public figures, and journalists came out in open opposition to the ban, which only helped the movement gain traction especially when American ideals were called into question.
The researchers tested their results against other major issues such as the Keystone Pipeline and the border wall and found that opposition did little to sway public opinion on these counts.
With the Muslim ban, the fact that public opinion was swayed by American values shows that American identity is a strong motivator and could be used to change minds on important issues.