Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




The present research investigated the behavioural consequences in a social interaction of implicit and explicit refugee dehumanization. To this end, this research employed an experimental design in which 93 undergraduate students interacted with a confederate whom they either believed to be a refugee or a Canadian student. The interaction was videotaped and coded for participants’ positivity of nonverbal and verbal behaviours. The results showed that increased implicit refugee dehumanization predicted less positive nonverbal behavior, and that increased explicit refugee dehumanization tended to predict less positive interaction quality based on participants’ verbal behaviour. Based on these results, the present research also investigated the following two subsidiary research questions utilizing data from the same study. First, does implicit refugee dehumanization predict specific nonverbal behaviours that are indicative of anxiety or general uneasiness and specific nonverbal behaviours that are indicative of happiness or comfort? Second, do implicit and explicit refugee dehumanization predict changes in the positivity of participants’ nonverbal and verbal behavior, as well as their specific nonverbal behaviours (e.g., self-touch, facial rigidity), from the beginning to the end of the interaction with a refugee? The results showed that implicit refugee dehumanization and the type of interaction partner (refugee versus Canadian) influenced the extent to which participants had rigid faces, smiled or touched themselves throughout the interaction. In terms of change over time, the results showed that participants’ tendency to implicitly dehumanize refugees determined their nonverbal behaviour at the beginning of the interaction. For example, at the beginning of the interaction, participants who implicitly dehumanized refugees displayed less positive nonverbal behaviours, had more rigid faces and smiled less when interacting with a refugee compared to a Canadian. As the action unfolded, however, participants’ nonverbal behaviours ecame more positive regardless of their implicit refugee dehumanization scores and experimental condition. Participants’ verbal behaviour as well as participants’ specific nonverbal behaviours did not change over time, on average. The present research is the first demonstration that implicit and explicit refugee dehumanization have behavioural consequences in a social interaction.