Looking at the immigrants’ faces. The study of audience’s emotions and attitude toward immigrants through a documentary film

Marinella Paciello, Luca Cerniglia, Francesca D'Errico, Mariangela Cersosimo, Arrigo Pedón


In line with the refugee agency recommendations (UNHCR, 2010) the present research recruited citizens in the general population with the aim of understanding whether positive media messages may foster acceptance towards refugee immigrants. The study has specifically considered the case of unaccompanied refugee minors verifying if and how specific affective and cognitive dimensions implicated in individual moral functioning were related to empathic or hostile emotions experienced while watching a documentary realized by refugee minors in a hosting centre in Italy. In addition, the relationship between different emotional responses and attitudes toward immigrations were examined. Fifty student were invited to complete pre-assessment questionnaire containing measures on empathic tendencies (e.g. perspective taking, Davis, 1990) personal values (self-enhancement values, Schwartz, 1992) and moral regulation (e.g. moral efficacy; Bandura, 1991). Then, voluntary participants were invited to watch the documentary film produced in the a European Project. After the presentation of the film, the students have to indicate their current emotional states and attitude toward immigration as spectators. Overall, the results showed that self-transcendence values, empathic concern and moral self-efficacy were positively related to sympathy, and negatively related to hostile emotions. Differently, moral disengagement was positively related to negative affect. Moreover, the presence of empathic affect during the film was associated with positive attitudes toward immigrations; on the contrary, the presence of hostile emotions was strongly related  to negative attitudes toward hosting. Overall, results suggest the importance of considering citizens’ moral sensitivity, motivation and moral regulative capabilities together audio-visual contents to better understand people’s emotions in relation to immigration and hosting.

Palabras clave

morality; personality; immigration; documentary film; emotions

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17060/ijodaep.2019.n1.v4.1559 Statistics: Resumen : 154 views. PDF (English) : 91 views.  

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Copyright (c) 2019 Marinella Paciello, Luca Cerniglia, Francesca D'Errico, Mariangela Cersosimo, Arrigo Pedón

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"International Journal of Developmental and Educational Psychology."

Revista Infad de Psicología.

ISSN digital: 2603-5987

ISSN impreso: 0214-9877