Political Behavior

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 19-40

First online:

Framing responsibility for political issues: The case of poverty

  • Shanto IyengarAffiliated withDepartments of Political Science and Communications Studies, University of California at L.A.

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How people think about poverty is shown to be dependent on how the issue is framed. When news media presentations frame poverty as a general outcome, responsibility for poverty is assigned to society-at-large; when news presentations frame poverty as a particular instance of a poor person, responsibility is assigned to the individual. Similar framing effects are documented in the 1986 General Social Survey where the amount of public assistance deemed appropriate for a poor family varies with the description of the family. In concluding, the implications of framing for the study of public opinion are considered.