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A latent profile analysis of attributions for poverty: Identifying response patterns underlying people’s willingness to help the poor


Attribution theory posits that poverty beliefs vary along the causal properties of locus, stability, personal control, and other control. The current paper extends this framework by using a latent profile analysis to identify the unique response patterns (latent profiles) that underlie these beliefs. Results indicated that participants (N= 315) displayed one of three attributional profiles: Blaming (high internal locus; moderate stability; high personal control; high other control), Caring (low internal locus; moderate stability; low personal control; high other control), or Ambivalent (moderate across causal properties). Subsequent analyses showed that levels of conservatism and system justification positively correlated with membership in the Blaming (vs. Caring) profile. In turn, belonging in the Blaming (vs. Caring) profile predicted more anger, less sympathy, and less support for the poor. These findings advance attribution theory by taking a person-centered perspective and demonstrating that three distinct response patterns underlie individual differences in people's poverty beliefs.

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