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When Mediated Poverty Stereotypes align with Public Opinion: A Clear Predictor of Ideology and Party in the U.S.

Mark D Harmon

Abstract

Attribution Theory observes that people have a compelling need to explain things, and those explanations break down into things internal to the self or to an outside force. This article notes how neatly that theory parallels work by Lakoff that conservatives and Republicans take a "stern father" approach to issues, finding individual fault for almost any problem, while Democrats and liberals look to external forces. Mediated portrayals of poverty tend to enforce the former view rather than the latter. Through secondary analyses of many polls, the researcher confirms that political ideology and party align at highly significant levels with how respondents answer the question "Why are people poor?"

Suggested Citation

Harmon, Mark D. (2010, April) When Mediated Poverty Stereotypes align with Public Opinion: a Clear Predictor of Ideology and Party in the U.S. Presentation to the Midwest Political Science Association.