Asylum Seekers and Resettled Refugees in Australia: Predicting Social Policy Attitude From Prejudice Versus Emotion
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While most of the world's refugees reside in developing countries, their arrival to western countries is highly politicised, giving rise to questions about the types of entitlements and rights that should, or should not, be granted. In this study, using a mixed-methods community questionnaire (N = 185), we examined attitudes towards social policies aimed at providing assistance to two categories of new arrivals to Australia: resettled refugees (who arrive via its official refugee resettlement program) and asylum seekers (who arrive via boat and then seek refugee status). Social policy attitude was examined as a consequence of feelings of anger, fear, and threat, as well as levels of prejudice. Participants felt significantly higher levels of anger, fear, threat, and prejudice towards asylum seekers compared to resettled refugees. For both resettled refugees and asylum seekers, prejudice was an independent predictor of more restrictive social policy attitudes. For resettled refugees, fear and perceived threat were independent predictors for more restrictive social policy whereas for asylum seekers anger was an independent predictor of restrictive social policy. The qualitative data reinforced the quantitative findings and extended understanding on the appraisals that underpin negative attitudes and emotional responses. Practical implications relating to challenging community attitudes are discussed.
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