British Adolescents’ and Young Adults’ Understanding and Reasoning About the Religious and Nonreligious Rights of Asylum-Seeker Youth


  • The authors would like to acknowledge funding from the Nuffield Foundation. In addition, they would like to thank Amy Messenger, Ruth Frost, Tope Ademosu, Andreea Rudas, Betul Alkhedairy, and Guler Dunne for help with data collection, coding, and transcription. Finally, they would like to thank the young people who gave so generously of their time. These data were presented at the 2011 biennial meeting in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

concerning this article should be addressed to Harriet R. Tenenbaum, Psychology Department, Kingston University, Penrhyn Road, Kingston-upon-Thames, KT1 2EE, United Kingdom. Electronic mail may be sent to


This study examined British young people’s understanding of the rights of asylum-seeking young people. Two hundred sixty participants (11–24 years) were read vignettes involving asylum-seeking young people’s religious and nonreligious self-determination and nurturance rights. Religious rights were more likely to be endorsed than nonreligious rights. In general, younger participants were more likely than older participants to endorse the rights of asylum-seeking young people. Supporting a social cognitive domain approach, patterns of reasoning varied with the type of right and whether scenarios involved religious or nonreligious issues. Few developmental differences were found regarding participants’ reasoning about asylum-seeking young people’s religious or nonreligious rights. The findings are discussed with reference to available theory and research on young people’s conceptions of rights.