Ideological responses to the EU refugee crisis: The left, the right, and the extremes

Jan Willem van Prooijen*, André P.M. Krouwel, Julia Emmer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The 2016 European Union (EU) refugee crisis exposed a fundamental distinction in political attitudes between the political left and right. Previous findings suggest, however, that besides political orientation, ideological strength (i.e., political extremism) is also relevant to understand such distinctive attitudes. Our study reveals that the political right is more anxious, and the political left experiences more self-efficacy, about the refugee crisis. At the same time, the political extremes—at both sides of the spectrum—are more likely than moderates to believe that the solution to this societal problem is simple. Furthermore, both extremes experience more judgmental certainty about their domain-specific knowledge of the refugee crisis, independent of their actual knowledge. Finally, belief in simple solutions mediated the relationship between ideology and judgmental certainty, but only among political extremists. We conclude that both ideological orientation and strength matter to understand citizens’ reactions to the refugee crisis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-150
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Psychological & Personality Science
Issue number2
Early online date3 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


  • EU refugee crisis
  • ideology
  • judgmental certainty
  • political extremism
  • right-wing attitudes


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