The deliberative ideal implies that attitude change constitutes a process of weighing arguments and evidence. Using quasi-experimental data on attitudes toward migration from a cross-national deliberative poll, we assess various elements of argumentative theory. First we map the kinds of arguments participants of a deliberative poll produce and find clear evidence that while participants in a deliberative environment adjust their arguments to their prior beliefs they also take into account the tone of the deliberative context. Next we assess how deliberation affects the formation of policy beliefs by studying the role of arguments. The use of positive arguments leads to more positive beliefs about immigrants. This holds true controlling for prior beliefs. The context of deliberation also plays a role. However, evidence for belief updating based on arguments put forward by the participant and in the group (as well as the interaction thereof) is only found for beliefs of immigration as an economic threat and not for cultural threat beliefs.
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