Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science




Dr. V.Esses

Second Advisor

Dr. B. Gawronski


The frequent use of animalistic metaphors to depict refugees in Western societies - both by the media and politicians - raises an interesting question: Do people implicitly associate refugees with animals? The current study investigated this research question, and the relation between implicit and explicit measures of dehumanization. Furthermore, the current study looked at how implicit and explicit measures of the dehumanization of refugees relate to individual difference variables such as Social Dominance Orientation and Essentialism, emotions toward refugees, willingness to have contact with refugees, and willingness to provide help to refugees. Using sequential priming and self report measures, the study revealed the following results: 1) participants implicitly dehumanized and attributed more negative valence to refugees than to Canadians; 2) implicit measures of dehumanization did not correlate with explicit measures of dehumanization, emotions, contact or helping behaviour; 3) participants who were higher in Essentialism were more likely to implicitly dehumanize refugees, whereas participants who were higher in Social Dominance Orientation were more likely to explicitly dehumanize refugees; and 4) explicit dehumanization predicted contempt and lack of admiration towards refugees, lack of willingness to empower refugees and the perception that refugees must change to improve their situation. These results are discussed in terms of the potential functions of the implicit and explicit dehumanization of refugees, and future avenues for research.



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