Inconsistencies in repeated refugee status decisions

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Consistency in civil servant decisions is paramount to upholding judicial equality for citizens and individuals seeking safety through governmental intervention. We investigated refugee status decisions made by a sample of civil servants at the Swedish Migration Agency. We hypothesized, based on the emotional demands such decisions bring with them, that participants would exhibit a compassion fade effect such that refugee status was less likely to be granted over time. To test this, we administered a questionnaire containing brief presentations of asylum seekers and asked participants to judge how likely they would be to give refugee status to the person. Crucially the first, middle, and final case presented were matched on decision relevant characteristics. Consistent with our hypothesis, we saw a significant decline in ratings. These effects were accentuated by the amount of time a participant had worked at the agency, consistent with depletion of affective resources, and attenuated in workers with greater responsibility and additional training. We conclude that active regulation of empathic and affective responses to asylum seekers may play a role in determining the outcome in refugee status decisions.


Enheter & grupper
Externa organisationer
  • Karolinska Institute

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Tillämpad psykologi
  • Internationell Migration och Etniska Relationer (IMER)
Sidor (från-till)569-578
TidskriftJournal of Behavioral Decision Making
Utgåva nummer5
StatusPublished - 2020
Peer review utfördJa