Escape and Apathy: How Narratives of Homelessness Influence Benevolent Behaviors Among Domicile Publics
Duchsherer, Amy Elaine
More InformationShow full item record
Using the theoretical lenses of attribution theory, contact hypothesis, and exemplification theory, this study examined how narratives of homelessness influenced domicile individuals when determining benevolent behaviors. Survey data were collected from 331 participants regarding the influence of particular narratives on the likelihood and types of assistance participants would be willing to provide homeless individuals. Participants also responded to two open-ended questions to identify other factors likely to influence the offering of assistance. Findings revealed that participants considered 12 factors when choosing whether or not to act benevolently, including cause, vulnerability of the homeless individual, and willingness to escape homelessness most commonly mentioned. The findings also suggested that domicile individuals divided the homeless population into categories (e.g., deserving and undeserving) based upon narratives to decide whether or not to act benevolently. The practical applications of these findings stress the importance of accurate representations of homelessness from narrative sources including media outlets. Keywords: narrative, attribution, exemplification theory, contact hypothesis, homelessness, benevolence.