Chapter 1. Introduction

The world is currently facing the largest refugee crisis since World War II. At the same time, refugees have negative connotations, with the European public's propensity to help being on shaky ground. In this paper, we therefore investigate whether increasing public education of the refugee crisis by tackling the most prevalent barriers to support with targeted communication can positively influence a change in public attitudes and behaviours. In doing so, we seek to advise key stakeholders (governments, media and non-profitable organisations) on how to most effectively communicate to the European public about the refugee crisis, in order to increase positive perceptions and drive affirmative action.

To achieve our goal we implemented a two-phase process, focusing on Germany and the United Kingdom for their contrasting response to the refugee crisis. In the first phase we explore public sentiment and isolate the most important barriers to tackle. In the second phase, we use these learnings to create targeted stimulus and test their effectiveness through both attitudinal and behavioural measurements, homing in on the UK due to the similarity in barriers identified. Targeting two key segments of the population, our aim is to drive a change in perception amongst those who oppose refugees coming to their country (Attitudinal Target Group) and trigger behavioural action amongst those who do not oppose refugees but do not currently take action in offering their support (Behavioural Target Group).