The Psychology of Seeking Protection

Claims for asylum entail many complex psychological interactions. The claimant presents
his or her claim, interviews are conducted, appeals heard and decisions made. In other
areas of law, civil or criminal law, for example, there is a wealth of studies exploring the
interface with psychology and examining the processes at work in legal proceedings. However,
to date, very little of this has been applied to refugee law. This article reviews areas of
the psychological literature which have models or knowledge to offer that may be pertinent
to the proceedings of refugee law. The review is tentative, in that cross-disciplinary research
is needed to establish the extent to which these areas of psychology do apply. Studies similar
to those seen in other areas of psychology and law are necessary to establish the degree to
which similar conclusions may be drawn, and the degree to which there are distinct psychological
issues at work in the process of refugee status decision making.

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