Social Empathy and Attitudes about Dependence of People Living in Poverty on Government Assistance Programs

ABSTRACT

Although 43 million people live in poverty in the United States, disdain for government assistance continues to grow. This disdain may come from a lack of contextual understanding of the conditions surrounding poverty, which in turn can lead to a deprioritization of income-assistance programs. This study investigates the relationship of one’s social empathy and attitude about poverty-related social programs using a binary logistic regression. Participants with more contextual understanding are less likely to believe that the poor are too dependent on government assistance. Findings suggest that increasing social empathy could improve attitudes toward people living in poverty and government assistance.

SOURCE: M. Alex Wagaman, Kimberly S. Compton & Elizabeth A. Segal (2018) Social empathy and attitudes about dependence of people living in poverty on government assistance programs, Journal of Poverty, DOI: 10.1080/10875549.2018.1460740

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