Child’s religiosity, ethnic origin, and gender: A randomized experimental examination of risk assessment and placement decisions in cases of ambiguous risk to children from low SES families

Guy Enosh, Hani Nouman, Chana Schneck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Social workers are called upon as expert witnesses to assess risk to children and recommend interventions. It is hypothesized that risk assessments and decisions are influenced by the risk-to-child as well as personal attitudes and biases. We examined the role of the ethnic origin, religiosity, and child gender on assessments and recommendation. Methods: The current study used a survey-based balanced crossover experimental design. One hundred and twenty Israeli social workers responded to case descriptions of ambiguous risk cases of children from low socioeconomic status families. Design was based on eight vignettes. Manipulated factors included child’s gender, family religiosity, and ethnic origin. Participants assessed the child risk level and reported placement recommendation. Results: Male, ultraorthodox-Jewish child of Mizrahi origin had higher likelihood for risk assessment. Risk assessment predicted placement recommendation. Implications: Social workers tend to perceive child’s male gender, ultrareligiosity, and Mizrahi origin as risk factors. Such cultural biases indirectly affected the placement recommendation. Awareness of social workers regarding these potential biases may reduce the influence of heuristics on the professional decision-making process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)766-774
Number of pages9
JournalResearch on Social Work Practice
Volume29
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018.

Keywords

  • biases
  • child placement
  • psychometric study
  • risk assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Psychology (all)

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