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Less “human” than us: dehumanisation as a psychological barrier to the integration of migrants

Niamh McLoughlin and Harriet Over

Abstract

Prejudice and discriminatory behaviour remain significant barriers to positive intergroup relations. In a time in which global migration rates are at their highest (and continue to rise), recent emphasis has been placed on the negative perceptions of certain immigrant and refugee group members in Western media and political discourse. A prominent feature of these debates involves the perceived “humanness” of migrant individuals. The tendency to view culturally dissimilar others as less human compared to one’s own cultural group is not a novel social phenomenon however. In this chapter, we draw from the fields of philosophy, social and developmental psychology to examine the nature of dehumanisation in the context of migration. Through understanding the psychological processes by which dehumanising perceptions are acquired and expressed, this research ultimately hopes to inform strategies to foster the inclusion of newcomers within their host countries.

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston