Attribution and Teenage Pregnancy: Influence of Race on Blame and Policy Support
AuthorCahoon, Kristy Lynn
AdvisorWeigel, Daniel J.
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This dissertation utilized theories of interpersonal perception and judgment to demonstrate that perceptions of affect, attributions, blame, and policy decisions can be significantly altered by characteristics of target pregnant adolescents and male partners. Weiner (1993) argued that a consideration of interpersonal judgment includes affect, attribution, and action, in order to understand the influence of each on the other. To accomplish this, measures of participant reactions to target vignettes, including causal attributions, blame, and willingness to support a variety of social policies were investigated. In addition, the Culpable Control Model of Blame (Alicke, 2000) required inclusion of participant attributes such as racial attitudes, belief in a just world, and religiosity. Participants were a convenience sample of 318 individuals surveyed in the waiting room at the Family Medicine Clinic in Reno, Nevada.Results demonstrated that target justification was the most influential target factor in determining participant judgments, impacting every dependent variable investigated. Target sex and race were significantly predictive of a variety of outcomes, however not as consistently. Priming participants with a photo of the target, however, was not a significant indicator of attitudes towards pregnant adolescents or their partners. In addition to investigating the influence of target factors, the analyses examined the impact of moderating variables such as racial attitudes, belief in a just world, and participant religiosity, as well as demographic characteristics of participants, determining that these variables affected participant judgments, though again not consistently. Implications for future research, social science theory, and social policy were discussed, as well as study limitations.