Dole bludgers or economic victims? : an examination of factors associated with lay explanations for unemployment : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Psychology at Massey University
Societal reactions to unemployment are linked, in part, to how the cause of unemployment is perceived. This study investigated the underlying structure, and determinants of lay explanations for unemployment in four socio-economic groups; namely student, retired, employed, and unemployed groups. The study examined which types of explanations were rated most important, and the extent to which demographic and personality factors were associated with the types of explanations endorsed. Results showed that overall, societal factors were rated most important, followed by individualistic, then fatalistic factors. Significant effects were found for group membership where individualistic factors were rated less important by the unemployed, societal factors were rated less important by students and the retired, while fatalistic factors were rated less important by the employed. Significant effects were found for education, religious activity, vote, and length of unemployment. The Protestant work ethic, conservatism, and belief in a 'just world' were related to individualistic explanations for unemployment. Findings were discussed with reference to the increase in unemployment, the influence of the media, and to developing public policy, and programmes in relation to unemployment.