Integration of refugees: Germans in east and west show similar willingness to help

October 15, 2019

In discussions in Germany on immigrants, particularly eastern Germany is often associated with attacks on foreigners and hate crimes against refugees. Research data and surveys also indicate that prejudices against immigrants are often stronger in the east of the country than in the western half. But are these differences also reflected in small acts of everyday help? This question was looked at in detail by German researchers. They carried out two field studies in which they compared the behaviour of people in eastern and western Germany as far as helping was concerned.

For this purpose, the team of psychologists led by Dr. Jens H. Hellmann from the University of Münster opted for a rarely used method. They deposited stamped envelopes over the street: half of the letters were addressed to a project on the integration of refugees, and the other half were addressed to a project working to stop immigration. The researchers checked to see how many of the letters were sent back, taking the particular region into account: urban and rural, East and West Germany. The result was that there were no significant differences between eastern and western Germany. Overall, the percentage of letters posted to the integration project was around 45 percent, and the figure for the letters to the stop-immigration project was around 25 percent. The study has been published in the journal "Social Psychology".

The results contradict the usual assumptions and survey results, which suggest that people in eastern Germany are less in favour of refugees being integrated than those in the west are. "Even though there is more right-wing violence in the east than in the west, we shouldn't generalise such cases and apply them to the whole of eastern Germany," says Jens H. Hellmann, who led the study. "Of course, every one of these acts is to be condemned, and on no account must they be trivialised, but to make generalisations for the whole of eastern Germany would be wrong - and fatal. Such generalisations would also stigmatise the people who are glad to help in the integration of refugees when they have the opportunity."

In their article, the researchers argue that only some of the results of surveys permit predictions regarding everyday behaviour. Accordingly, it can be assumed that not all of the people who reject refugees leave a letter addressed to the integration project lying on the ground. And not everyone who has a positive attitude to refugees provides everyday help.

On the method:

The researchers deposited a total of 800 stamped envelopes on the street, all far enough away from each other so that potential finders would not find more than one letter, if possible. The locations the researchers chose were Dresden, Bremen, and rural areas. The response rates showed that more letters for the integration project were returned overall than for the stop-immigrants project - in particular from the cities in east and west. As regards the letters from the more rural areas, there was no majority for the stop-immigration project in either western or eastern Germany.
In addition to the University of Münster, the University of Bielefeld and the University of Applied Sciences for Public Administration and management of North Rhine-Westphalia (all Germany) were involved in the study.

Original publication:

J. H. Hellmann et al. (2019). Support for refugee integration in West and East Germany: Results from two lost letter studies. Social Psychology, Advance online publication; DOI: 10.1027/1864-9335/a000397

University of Münster

Related Immigrants Articles from Brightsurf:

Immigrants who naturalize outearn their peers
Looking at municipalities in Switzerland where citizenship applications were put to a popular vote, researchers identified immigrants who narrowly won or lost and tracked their earnings over the next several decades.

US-born residents more than 5 times likely to use prescription opioids than new immigrants
The longer immigrants live in the United States, the more likely they are to use prescription opioids -- a fact that contradicts popular views linking wealth and health, and suggests that American culture is uniquely favorable toward prescribing opioids.

Length of time in US associated with immigrants' opioid use
The more time first-generation immigrants spend in the United States the more likely it appears they will use prescription opioids.

Undocumented immigrants' transplant survival rates on par with US citizens'
Unauthorized immigrants who receive liver transplants in the United States have comparable three-year survival rates to US citizens, according to a study by researchers at UC San Francisco.

Immigrants who committed felonies less likely than nonimmigrants to commit another felony
A new study compared recidivism rates of foreign-born and native-born individuals formerly incarcerated for felonies and released from prisons in Florida.

Uncovering the roots of discrimination toward immigrants
Immigrants are often encouraged to assimilate into their new culture as a way of reducing conflict with their host societies, to appear less threatening to the culture and national identity of the host population.

Immigrants: citizens' acceptance depends on questions asked
How many immigrants per year should Switzerland be prepared to welcome?

How societal attitudes, political rhetoric affect immigrants' health
For immigrants to the United States, the current political climate, and debates over issues such as a border wall, become part of the environment that influences their health, according to a new University of Washington study.

UK prejudice against immigrants amongst lowest in Europe
A new study published in Frontiers in Sociology challenges prevailing attitudes on Brexit, the nature of prejudice, and the social impact of modernization.

Research shows biases against immigrants with non-anglicized names
Using variations of the 'trolley-dilemma' where people choose who to save or not save others in a hypothetical situation, social psychologists show that for certain groups, under certain conditions in a hypothetical scenario, having an anglicized name means you're more likely to be saved than if you kept your original Asian or Arab name.

Read More: Immigrants News and Immigrants Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to