Attributional and Symbolic Predictors of Abortion Attitudes1


  • 1

    This article is based on the author's doctoral dissertation completed at the University of California, Los Angeles, under the supervision of Bernard Weiner. I am grateful for his guidance, as well as the helpful advice of committee members David Boninger, Sandra Graham, and David Sears. I thank David Wulff and two anonymous reviewers for their thoughtful comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Gail Sahar Zucker, Department of Psychology, Wheaton College, Norton, MA 02766.


Attributional and symbolic politics approaches were used to develop a model relating symbolic predispositions, perceptions of responsibility for unwanted pregnancy, affects, and attitudes toward abortion. In Study 1, a taxonomy of 12 distinct causes of unwanted pregnancy was identified. College-student subjects in Study 2 rated these causes on importance, controllability, blame, pity, anger, and judgments in favor of abortion. A regression analysis revealed that abortion approval in this student sample is negatively related to conservatism, religiosity, and blame. In Study 3, a more extensive path mode) is offered indicating that abortion approval in a nonstudent sample is linked negatively to religiosity and moral traditionalism, and positively to sympathy. Results of the study demonstrate the utility of applying social psychological theory to abortion attitudes.