Communicating to Influence Perceptions of Social Stigma: Implications for the Use of Signs by the Homeless as a Means of Soliciting Funds

Franklin J. Boster, Rain Wuyu Liu, Thanomwong Poorisat, Ying Cheng, Wonkyung Kim, Nicholas D. Salmon-Seidmann, Charles T. Salmon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Homelessness is an important social problem in many countries, including the United States. The plight of the homeless is compounded by a high level of stigma associated with the homeless. This study examines the effects of humorous and nonhumorous signs used by the homeless to attract donations. Study 1 shows that nonhumorous signs attracted 10 times as much money as humorous signs. Study 2 shows that subjects felt more comfortable in the presence of homeless not holding a sign and perceived them more positively compared with homeless holding a humorous sign. Positive perceptions of them led to more comfort, which led to more donations. Study 3 shows that subjects perceived homeless not holding a sign more positively compared with homeless holding a nonhumorous sign. These findings suggest that signs make potential donors feel uncomfortable, potentially resulting in diminished donations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1293-1305
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Volume60
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • compliance gaining
  • donations
  • homeless signs
  • stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)

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