In progress: Counselors, teachers, and the selection of services for students

This study is now in progress and we are inviting participants! In it, we are investigating the kinds of services that K-12 teachers and school counselors can recommend for their students. We would appreciate your participation if you work in a school in one of these ways:
1) You are a teacher
2) You are a school counselor, school social worker, or school psychologist
3) You are a graduate-level trainee in one of these fields -- either teaching/education or school counseling/social work/psychology

You can accept this invitation by clicking onto the link below. The link will take you to a page that tells you more about the survey, and then to the survey itself. Here's the link to the survey:

We would appreciate your forwarding the survey link to others who qualify as participants. Thanks in advance for considering this invitation!

2013: Poverty, crime, & the "politics of disgust"

This was the second of two articles that we wrote after analyzing data from a survey that we nicknamed "How bad is it?" We borrowed the phrase "the politics of disgust" from Ange Hancock's (2004) book by the same name, in which she theorized about the ways that poverty-related attitudes psychologically separate the poor from the rest of us.  Our survey captured participants' associations between social class membership and various kinds of misbehaviors and crimes. In this analysis, we examined participants' ratings of 35 crimes and infractions with regard to 1) their criminal seriousness and 2) the level of disgust that they inspired. We discovered that infractions associated with the wealthy were rated as the most serious and also the most disgusting. In other words, high levels of seriousness in these crimes were met with a correspondingly high level of disgust. For items corresponding to poverty, however, the pattern was different: ratings of seriousness were lower than for the items associated with wealth, yet ratings of disgust were not lower -- they were just as high. Infractions associated with poverty were rated as more disgusting than they were serious.

Smith, L., Baranowski, K., Allen, A., & Bowen, R. (2013).  Poverty, crime seriousness, and the “politics of disgust.” Journal of Poverty, 375-393.

2011: Social class and therapists' impressions

Just-world beliefs refer to the idea that people get what they deserve in life -- so if they are living in poverty, they must be individually responsible for those circumstances. How might those beliefs play a part in the responses of counselors to their clients who live in poverty? In this study, we presented counselors-in-training with case vignettes that differed only in the description of the hypothetical client's social class. We found that, among participants with higher levels of just-world beliefs, poor and working-class clients tended to be rated as more dysfunctional and less appealing to work with.

Smith, L., Mao, S., Perkins, S., & Ampuero, M. (2011). The relationship of clients’ social class to early therapeuticimpressions. Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 24, 15-27.

2010: Exploring the associations between social class and assumptions of bad behavior

This was the first of two studies that came from our interest in exploring classist stereotypes regarding the supposed criminal tendencies and generally bad behavior of poor people. We nicknamed the studies "How bad is it?" because they grew from our anecdotal observations that people of two different classes could exhibit the same behavior, but if one of them was poor, the behavior seemed to be evaluated much more negatively. Our participants evaluated most of a long list of behavioral infractions as being equally likely to be committed by people of any social class, and not surprisingly, when a particular infraction contained a class-related cue, it was linked to that social class. Poverty was the only class position, however, to be linked to the commission of negative behaviors that contained no class-related cue, things like "Not bathing often enough."

Smith, L., Allen, A., & Bowen, R. (2010). Expecting the worst: Exploring the associations between poverty and misbehavior. Journal of Poverty, 14, 33 – 54.