The unique effects of blatant dehumanization on attitudes and behavior towards Muslim refugees during the European ‘refugee crisis’ across four countries

Emile Bruneau*, Nour Kteily, Lasse Laustsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

Blatant dehumanization has recently been demonstrated to predict negative outgroup attitudes and behaviors. Here, we examined blatant dehumanization of Muslim refugees during the ‘Refugee Crisis’ among large samples in four European countries: the Czech Republic (N = 1307), Hungary (N = 502), Spain (N = 1049), and Greece (N = 934). Our results suggest that blatant dehumanization of Muslim refugees is (a) prevalent among Europeans, and (b) uniquely associated with anti-refugee attitudes and behavior, beyond political ideology, prejudice, and—of particular relevance to the refugee crisis—empathy. We also find that blatant dehumanization of Muslim refugees is significantly higher and more strongly associated with intergroup behavior in the Eastern European countries (especially the Czech Republic) than in Spain and Greece. Examining a range of outgroup targets beyond refugees, our results further illustrate that blatant dehumanization is not purely an ethnocentric bias: while individuals across contexts feel warmer towards their group than all others, they rate several high-status outgroups as equally or more fully ‘evolved and civilized’ than the ingroup. Our research extends theoretical understanding of blatant dehumanization, and suggests that blatant dehumanization plays an important and independent role in the rejection of Muslim refugees throughout Europe.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)645-662
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Volume48
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2018

Keywords

  • Islamophobia
  • dehumanization
  • empathy
  • refugees

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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