The imagined contact hypothesis: prejudice towards asylum seekers in Australia

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Journal Article

The present study was prompted by awareness of prejudicial attitudes towards refugees evident in Australian media and politics. It used some innovative measures of prejudice including the distance apart in chair placements made by respondents prior to sitting next to a refugee and estimates of the hypothetical dollar value of resources to be allocated to refugees in comparison with the amount to be allocated to indigenous Australians and other social groups. More conventional attitude scale measures were also used (the Attitudes Towards Asylum Seekers Scale, an infrahumanisation measure, an empathy measure, a measure of perspective taking). In an attempt to reduce prejudice levels, the social psychology technique of imagined contact with an outgroup (asylum seekers who travel to Australia by boat) was used. The experimental design used randomised, independent groups (imagined contact and control conditions) with repeated measures for time (post intervention and follow up). University students (N = 54) who imagined an interaction with an asylum seeker showed higher levels of empathy than did the control group. While measures of prejudice did not differ between experimental conditions, notably low levels of prejudice in this student sample from a north Queensland university were found. The low levels of prejudice found in the present sample were both gratifying and somewhat unexpected. The study needs to be replicated with a community sample comparison group included or one initially shown to hold more strongly prejudicial attitudes. © 2018 Primrose Hall Publishing Group.

International Journal of Innovation, Creativity and Change
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Journal Article
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Type of Prejudice/Bias