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Prediction of negative attitudes toward Australian asylum seekers: False beliefs, nationalism, and self-esteem

Pedersen, A., Attwell, J. and Heveli, D. (2005) Prediction of negative attitudes toward Australian asylum seekers: False beliefs, nationalism, and self-esteem. Australian Journal of Psychology, 57 (3). pp. 148-160.

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Over the last few years in Australia, the issue of asylum seekers has been a significant feature of the media, and a topic that many people feel very strongly about. However, there is little empirical research regarding attitudes toward asylum seekers. The purpose of the present study was to examine such attitudes in the Perth community, and what predicts them. In Study 1, an Attitudes Toward Asylum Seekers (ATAS) scale was constructed. In Study 2, self-esteem, national identity, false beliefs, and sociodemographics were used in an attempt to predict ATAS in a random survey of the Perth metropolitan area. Results indicated a weak correlation between high self-esteem and negative attitudes, and a strong correlation between a high level of false beliefs and negative attitudes. As a result of this latter relationship, two hierarchical regression equations were constructed: one predicting negative attitudes, the other predicting false beliefs. Regarding the ATAS scale, being male, higher levels of education, right-wing political position, and high levels of national identity had significant predictive value. Regarding the false beliefs scale, higher levels of education, right-wing political position, high levels of national identity, and increased age had significant predictive value. Given the large number of participants who scored above the midpoint of the ATAS scale, coupled with the high level of false beliefs reported, we suggest that a great deal of education about asylum seekers is called for.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Psychology
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Copyright: The Australian Psychological Society Ltd
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