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Department of Psychology


Although learned helplessness theories suggest that global attributions for gender discrimination may serve to promote feelings of helplessness about responding to discrimination, group consciousness theories suggest they may instead be a precursor to enhancing collective actions against discrimination.

To examine this theoretical discrepancy, college women completed measures of attributions for gender discrimination, political consciousness (as measured by common fate), participation in collective action, and helplessness behavior among college women. To examine the unique role of global attributions, participants were included if they made external and unstable attributions for discrimination (N = 231). Structural equation modeling showed hat recognizing discrimination occurs globally was associated with an increased sense of common fate, which in turn was related to greater collective action and less helplessness behavior. Theoretical (attributions in an intergroup context) as well as practical (institutional policies on publicizing discrimination) implications were discussed.