Butterfly Lab Research

Our research, conducted in two phases, had two specific goals:

  • To understand narrative opportunities to build public support and investment in a pro-immigrant future.
  • To evaluate the impact of Butterfly Lab and Chrysalis Lab cohort narratives and projects.

Phase 1 Findings: Butterfly Lab Cohort Prototypes

In Phase 1, we worked with Harmony Labs to better understand how audiences reacted to the deep narratives advanced by cohort members. Specifically, the research found:

  • Nearly everyone believes immigrants deserve to belong and thrive.
  • Many people find it difficult to imagine an America in which this may be true.
  • Our primary audiences respond well to all narratives the cohort members tried, including narratives that focus on shared humanity, compassion, dignity, and respect.
  • Those audiences who are not yet aligned with the pro-immigrant movement do not respond well to the aforementioned narratives. They do, however, respond well to narratives of striving, responsibility, and liberty.
  • Our narratives need to make sense of the past and present, and point toward immigration futures that are compelling to all.

Read more about our research with Harmony Labs.

Phase 2 Findings: The Belonging Study & Content Testing

We know that, as a movement, we need to build a sustainable and enduring pro-immigrant majority. In order to do this, we must activate more Americans’ belief that immigrants deserve to belong and thrive in this country, move them to imagine that such a world is possible, and engage them to act to build that world.

With that goal in mind, we partnered with The Opportunity Agenda to commission Gretchen Barton of the Worthy Strategy Group, with support from Kirk Cheyfitz Political Strategies, to explore the underlying beliefs and drivers that shape attitudes around immigration and what is needed for audiences to embrace a pro-immigrant future. We then turned these learnings into content and used randomized controlled trials to understand which concepts, themes, or storytelling approaches would successfully move audiences toward a pro-immigrant mindset and inoculate them against fear-based opposition narratives. We worked closely with Grow Progress, Riki Conrey from Harmony Labs, and Milan de Vries to assist with our testing and analysis in this phase.

We discovered there is a broad hunger for a culture that is abundant and free and that embraces immigrants in the United States. We found that even the most conservative and fearful audiences already have pro-immigrant values, and will move given the right conditions. They, too, want to see an immigration system that works, but they are easily swayed by fear-based narratives. 

Our concept testing uncovered several story elements that activate audiences’ pro-immigrant worldview, even in the presence of opposition narratives:

  • Taking audiences on a hopeful journey that culminates in a positive vision for how life could be;
  • Acknowledging audiences’ fears about a changing America; and
  • Showing how a shared future can be better for everyone, including them.

We hope that others in the movement can use our findings as a launchpad to tell more stories and advance narratives that persuade stretch audiences, build a pro-immigrant majority in the United States, and invite lasting transformation.

To learn more: