Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2014

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Psychological and Quantitative Foundations

First Advisor

Liu, William M

First Committee Member

Ali, Saba Rasheed

Second Committee Member

Bianchi, Alison

Third Committee Member

Ehly, Stewart W

Fourth Committee Member

Westefeld, John


Research literature on homelessness makes frequent reference to shame, but with little inquiry into the role shame may play in the lives of homeless men. This study used Consensual Qualitative Research methodology (Hill, Thompson, & Williams, 1997) to interview 24 men in a small Midwestern city to explore how homeless men experience shame. The results from this study indicate that shame is experienced as a "painful sense of worthlessness and failure" whereby men attribute their homelessness to their own perceived characterological flaws. To avoid the painful experience of shame and stigma, homeless men appear to develop and use defense strategies. While the defense strategies may help alleviate the effects of shame and stigma in the immediate, the strategies appear to negatively affect opportunities that facilitate an exodus from homelessness. This study also found that despite living in a transitional shelter, rare mention was made of plans to exit homelessness. Presented too are the limitations and implications of this research.


Attribution, Defenses, Homeless, Men, Shame, Stigma


vi, 128 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 113-128).


Copyright 2014 Kevin Fall