Dr. Vincent Berardi and Dr. David Frederick
As public opinion is known to impact policy formation, assessing how the public misperceives the homeless population is important to prevent non-informed policies from being adopted. This study focused on correcting misperceptions about the homeless as a means to garner support for public policies that are known to improve the lives of homeless individuals and those with mental illness. The research study implemented two forms of virtual interventions (refutation texts and personal anecdotes from homeless individuals) plus a control and assessed support for various policies before and after the trial. The goal of the study was to determine which intervention modality most effectively corrects misperceptions, reduces stigmatized attitudes, and influences support for effective policy solutions. Participants recruited via Amazon Mechanical Turk in California (N = 319) were randomly assigned to either the control group or one of the two intervention groups. A regression model was used to compare the means between the intervention and control groups and determine if the intervention had a significant effect on participant opinions and demographic ratings. I hypothesized that misperceptions regarding homelessness causes would be positively associated with support for ineffective policies. I also hypothesized that participant demographics would play a role in opinions, with conservative participants and older participants believing in more stigmatized causes. In terms of the interventions, I hypothesized that the anecdotes will be more effective than the refutation texts in promoting sympathy and humanizing the homeless in the eyes of the participants due to the effectiveness of interventions that utilized the contact hypothesis. Conversely, I hypothesized that the refutation text intervention, rather than the anecdotes, would result in more accurate perceptions of causes, more support for known effective policies, and more accurate estimates of the demographic breakdown.
Srivastava, Sophie; Berardi, Vincent; and Frederick, David, "Intervention to Modify Perceptions of Homelessness" (2022). Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters. 510.