Exoffender Housing Stigma and Discrimination

Megan C. Berry, Richard L. Wiener

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Despite the importance of stable housing for successful reentry, criminal history reduces the willingness of housing authorities to rent to applicants (Evans & Porter, 2015; Evans, Blount-Hill, & Cubellis, 2019; Furst & Evans, 2017). In seeking to understand the systemic nature of housing discrimination, we documented the stereotypes that 445 community members hold about exoffenders by applying stereotype content model analysis to map beliefs prior to asking participants to make rental judgments. Phase 1 of Experiment 1 measured competence (i.e., capable and skilled) and warmth (i.e., good-natured and friendly) stereotypes and Phase 2 manipulated offense status, race, and gender of the target applicant. Results showed that people perceived released offenders as low in competence and warmth, and that the low competence stereotype diminished willingness to rent to exoffenders. A second experiment with a new sample of 504 community members went on to determine whether providing participants individuating competency information about the specific applicant would ameliorate the stereotype competence effect found in Experiment 1. Experiment 2 manipulated the competency of apartment rental applicants, their offense record and their race. We found that the competence manipulation was successful, (i.e., participants were more likely to rent to the competent than neutral applicant) but the generic stereotype that exoffenders are low in competence was persistent and unaffected by information about the competence of the actual rental applicant. In other words, the individuating information did not disrupt the manifestation of the low competence stereotype against exoffenders. Future directions and policy implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPsychology, Public Policy, and Law
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • Exoffender reentry
  • Housing discrimination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law

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