Perceptions of Deservedness of Social Aid as a Function of Prenatal Diagnostic Testing1


  • Karen L. Lawson

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Saskatchewan Saskatchewan, Canada
    • concerning this article should be addressed to Karen L. Lawson, Psychology Department, University of Saskatchewan, 9 Campus Drive, Saskatchewan, SK S7N 5A5, Canada. E-mail:

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  • 1

    This article comprises a portion of the doctoral research of the author, which was conducted at the Department of Psychology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, under the supervision of Michael Peters. This research was supported by Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada Grant #752-97-1019.


This study examined whether judgments of deservedness of social aid subsequent to the birth of a disabled child vary as a function of prenatal diagnostic testing (PDT) use as predicted by the attribution-affect-action model (Weiner, 1980). A sample of family physicians/obstetricians (n= 341) and a university employee sample (n= 281) made attribution ratings in 3 scenarios in which an at-risk pregnant woman gave birth to a disabled child. The findings indicate that women who chose not to use PDT or who chose to continue the pregnancy following a diagnosis were judged more responsible, more to blame, and less deserving of both sympathy and social aid subsequent to giving birth to a disabled child than were women to whom testing was not made available.