Unemployment, Employability and COVID19: How the Global Socioeconomic Shock Challenged Negative Perceptions Toward the Less Fortunate in the Australian Context
AuthorSuomi, A; Schofield, TP; Butterworth, P
Source TitleFrontiers in Psychology
AffiliationMelbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsSuomi, A., Schofield, T. P. & Butterworth, P. (2020). Unemployment, Employability and COVID19: How the Global Socioeconomic Shock Challenged Negative Perceptions Toward the Less Fortunate in the Australian Context. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.594837.
Access StatusOpen Access
Unemployed benefit recipients are stigmatized and generally perceived negatively in terms of their personality characteristics and employability. The COVID19 economic shock led to rapid public policy responses across the globe to lessen the impact of mass unemployment, potentially shifting community perceptions of individuals who are out of work and rely on government income support. We used a repeated cross-sections design to study change in stigma tied to unemployment and benefit receipt in a pre-existing pre-COVID19 sample (n = 260) and a sample collected during COVID19 pandemic (n = 670) by using a vignette-based experiment. Participants rated attributes of characters who were described as being employed, working poor, unemployed or receiving unemployment benefits. The results show that compared to employed characters, unemployed characters were rated substantially less favorably at both time points on their employability and personality traits. The difference in perceptions of the employed and unemployed was, however, attenuated during COVID19 with benefit recipients perceived as more employable and more Conscientious than pre-pandemic. These results add to knowledge about the determinants of welfare stigma highlighting the impact of the global economic and health crisis on perception of others.
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