On the lowest rung of the ladder: How social exclusion, perceived economic inequality and stigma increase homeless people's resignation

Marco Marinucci, Paolo Riva, Michela Lenzi, Camilla Lasagna, Daniel Waldeck, Ian Tyndall, Chiara Volpato

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2 Citations (Scopus)
41 Downloads (Pure)


Despite the relevance of social exclusion and economic inequality for homelessness, empirical studies investigating how these issues relate to homeless people's psychological well‐being are scarce. We aimed to fill this gap by conducting two quasi‐experimental studies on homeless and non‐homeless groups. The first study (N = 200) showed that homeless (vs. non‐homeless) people presented higher levels of resignation, characterized by depression, alienation, helplessness, and unworthiness (Williams, 2009). The second study (N = 183) replicated the findings from Study 1 and showed that perceived economic inequality could increase homeless people's resignation by emphasizing perceptions of social exclusion. Additional analyses found that identification with the stigmatized homeless group could mediate the relationship between perceived inequality and social exclusion, increasing the resignation. Overall, the results showed that chronic social exclusion of homeless people is associated with higher levels of resignation. Moreover, they showed the role of perceived economic inequality and homeless group stigmatized identification as group‐specific mechanisms favouring social exclusion and ultimately worsening psychological well‐being.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1817-1838
Number of pages22
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number4
Early online date29 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 29 May 2023

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.


This research was supported by the grant PRIN 2017 #2017924L2B of the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR), entitled “The psychology of economic inequality”.


  • economic inequality
  • homeless people
  • resignation stage
  • social exclusion
  • social identity


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