The dominant stereotype of welfare recipients is that they are lazy and dependent. Using character rating experiments we found that current welfare recipients are dehumanized, but former recipients are viewed as if they never received welfare. Using data from the longitudinal HILDA survey we tested whether possessing this dehumanized characteristic would lead to societal mistreatment. We attempted to account for the conflation of individual welfare needs with community socio-economic status (SES), and showed that receiving benefits in a single year was associated with a higher risk of being assaulted in all years compared to non-recipients of the same SES. This risk was further exacerbated in years where the person received benefits, and current receipt prevented any safety-advantage of living in a high SES area. Although individuals do not evaluate former recipients as less human, their elevated risk of assault indicates that they are still treated this way.
Tim's expertise is in public health, social psychology and experimental psychology.