Attitudes Toward the Poor and Attributions for Poverty



Prior psychological research on attitudes toward the poor has focused almost exclusively on the attributions people make to explain why individuals are poor (e.g., Smith & Stone, 1989; Zucker & Weiner, 1993). The goal of the current study was to investigate the relationships among feelings about the poor and poverty, stereotypes of the poor, attributions for poverty, and sociopolitical ideologies (as assessed by the Protestant Ethic, Belief in a Just World, and Right Wing Authoritarianism Scales). In our Midwestern college sample (n = 209), attitudes toward the poor were found to be significantly more negative than attitudes toward the middle class. In addition, participants were most likely to blame poor people them-selves for their poverty. However, attitudes toward the poor and attributions for the causes of poverty were found to vary among individuals from different sociodemographic backgrounds and by degree of endorsement of Protestant ethic, just world, and authoritarianism beliefs. Few gender differences were obtained.