There is extensive research on children’s intergroup attitudes, but their perceptions of refugee children have rarely been studied. We conducted a study with 5- and 6-year-old children (N = 60) in Germany following the arrival of unprecedented large numbers of refugees in 2015 and 2016. Children completed a set of three tasks that measured their perceptions of refugee children (minority group) and German children (majority group): a draw-a-typical-child task (including questions about whether participants wanted to interact with the depicted child), an intergroup attitude task, and a liking task. Results indicate that participants drew similar pictures of and had similar intentions to interact with refugee children and German children. There was mixed evidence for group favouritism: while participants showed similar explicit attitudes towards German and refugee peers, they indicated more liking of German peers. Moreover, children viewed refugee children as a less variable (more homogeneous) group than German children. Opportunities for intergroup contact with refugee peers (i.e., whether participants attended kindergartens with or without refugee children) had no discernible effect on any of the measures. Our findings provide a snapshot of children’s perceptions of refugees in a unique historical context and contribute to research on the development of intergroup attitudes in real-world settings.

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0280759
ISSN: 1932-6203