The role of Christianity and Islam in explaining prejudice against asylum seekers: Evidence from Malaysia

Journal article


Cowling, Misha Mei and Anderson, Joel R.. (2019) The role of Christianity and Islam in explaining prejudice against asylum seekers: Evidence from Malaysia. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion. 29(2), pp. 108 - 127. https://doi.org/10.1080/10508619.2019.1567242
AuthorsCowling, Misha Mei and Anderson, Joel R.
Abstract

Prejudicial attitudes toward asylum seekers are prevalent, and an emerging body of literature has revealed that this is partly driven by religious affiliation. The population of Malaysia is multireligious, making it a fruitful location for testing religion-based prejudice hypotheses. Thus, across 2 studies we tested the roles of Christianity and Islam in explicit and implicit prejudices against asylum seekers in the Malaysian context. In Study 1 (n = 97), we present evidence that there are religion-based differences in prejudice against asylum seekers; specifically, Muslims reported higher levels of (classical) explicit prejudice toward asylum seekers than Christians (there were no differences in conditional or implicit prejudices). In Study 2 (n = 117), we tested the hypothesis that these religion-based differences are qualified by the religion of the asylum seeker. In this study, we used a framing paradigm to experimentally manipulate the religion of the asylum-seeking targets. The results revealed an out-group exacerbation effect; that is, participants reported higher levels of prejudice toward asylum seekers who had a different religion from their own. For classical explicit prejudice, the effect was strongest from Muslims toward Christian asylum seekers. Conversely, for implicit prejudice, the reverse was true: The effect was strongest from Christians toward Muslim asylum seekers. These findings are discussed in terms of the political and social circumstances in Malaysia, but we interpret these findings as evidence that explicit and implicit attitudes toward asylum seekers are driven by a complex pattern of religion-based intergroup biases.

Year2019
JournalInternational Journal for the Psychology of Religion
Journal citation29 (2), pp. 108 - 127
PublisherTaylor & Francis
ISSN1532-7582
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1080/10508619.2019.1567242
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85062367489
Page range108 - 127
Research GroupSchool of Philosophy
Place of publicationUnited States of America
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https://acuresearchbank.acu.edu.au/item/8qxy3/the-role-of-christianity-and-islam-in-explaining-prejudice-against-asylum-seekers-evidence-from-malaysia

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