Abortions Due to the Zika Virus Versus Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: Attributions and Willingness to Help

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This research applies the attribution–affect–action (AAA) model (Weiner, 1980) to investigate contextual and dispositional determinants of reactions toward pregnancy termination. In an experiment, a woman was described as having sought an abortion due to fetal deformities, caused by either fetal alcohol syndrome or the Zika virus; participants’ willingness to help was assessed. At the time of data collection, the Zika virus was considered a global health crisis, coinciding with emergent evidence of associations with fetal deformities. The results (N = 302) support our prediction that perceiving the woman as having more control—which is influenced by the purported cause of the deformities and by participants’ political orientation—leads to less willingness to help her, and that this process is partially mediated by sympathy. These results contribute to research on the link between attributions and perceptions of abortion, while also lending insight into global health crises and prenatal health screening.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)304-314
Number of pages11
JournalStigma and Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2020


  • Abortion
  • Attributions
  • Zika virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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