Investigating Turkish university students’ attitudes towards refugees in a time of Civil War in neighboring Syria

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Aktas V., Kındap Tepe Y., Persson R. S.

Current Psychology, vol.40, no.2, pp.553-562, 2021 (SSCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 40 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s12144-018-9971-y
  • Journal Name: Current Psychology
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, IBZ Online, BIOSIS, Business Source Elite, Business Source Premier, Psycinfo
  • Page Numbers: pp.553-562
  • Keywords: Attitudes, Conservatism, Empathy, Nationalism, Patriotism, Refugees, Religiosity, Religiousness
  • Ondokuz Mayıs University Affiliated: Yes


Thousands of refugees have immigrated to Turkey because of the current Civil War in neighboring Syria. This is causing tensions between refugees and locals. These increasingly negative attitudes towards the incoming victims of conflict are of particular interest. The present study, therefore, aimed at determining the premises of the emergence of such negative attitudes. The research sample consisted of university students who all studied at various faculties at Cumhuriyet University in the Turkish province of Sivas. Data were collected by the Attitude Scale Towards Refugees, the Patriotism Attitude Scale, the Interpersonal Reactivity Index, and the Cirhinlioğlu Religiosity Scale. Data were analyzed by Independent Sample t-tests as well as using Stepwise Regression Analyses. Results showed that the feeling of empathy correlated negatively with negative attitudes towards refugees, while blind patriotism, religiosity, and having nationalist/conservative orientations, correlated positively. Men were found to be more negative than women. The feeling of empathy was the most prominent factor in predicting the nature of attitudes towards refugees. Religious doctrine and distancing oneself from conservative and patriotic perspectives appeared to be effective in potentially preventing the development of negative attitudes. In conclusion, research results are discussed in the light of relevant literature.