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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