(C2-27) Integration at first sight: the role of religion for first mutual impressions of refugees and Germans

The so-called refugee crisis and the question of successful integration of refugees is a focal societal and political issue that is closely connected to the religion and religiousness of both refugees and members of the host country. To understand to what degree and under which circumstances religion functions as a resource or a barrier to successful integration, an analysis of the psychological processes is needed that determines integration and mutual understanding versus isolation and radicalization. The project aims at a better understanding of the role of religion for the social starting point of integration versus isolation: first mutual impressions of refugees and Germans. According to an integrative dual perspective all relevant psychological perception and judgment processes will be analyzed both for refugees and Germans.

Research questions

  • What are the effects of religion, religiousness, and religious beliefs on first mutual impressions (e.g., liking, trustworthiness, competence, aggressiveness) of refugees and Germans?
  • Moderating contextual and personal factors: What kind of financial, educational, and social resources moderate the effects of religion on these integrative versus isolating impressions? What is the role of generalized attitudes like social dominance orientation and right-wing authoritarianism but also of political attitudes and preferences for political parties?
  • Mediating processes: What kind of emotional-motivational (e.g., the experience of threat or sympathy), perceptual (e.g., the utilization of mimic cues), and evaluative-cognitive (e.g., the evaluation of perceived target characteristics) underlie first mutual impressions of refugees and Germans and the effects of religion on them?

Planned studies

To answer these questions empirically, we will start with established photo judgment designs used in perception, judgment and decision making research. Subsequent studies will be based on laboratory (videotaped group interactions) and field (smartphone-based experience sampling in everyday life) investigations of first impressions during actual social interactions.

The project is supported by the research initiative Psychological Aspects of Refugee Integration (PARI).