Empowering the poor: A field study of the social psychological consequences of receiving autonomy or dependency aid in Panama

Abstract

This field study investigated the consequences of receiving poverty aid through conditional transfer programmes in the form of autonomy-oriented help (i.e., cash) or dependency-oriented help (i.e., vouchers) in impoverished rural communities in Panama. The empowering effects of autonomy- (vs. dependency-) help have so far only been studied in laboratory settings, or in settings where help could easily be refused. Little is known about the reactions of people who rely on help for extended periods of time. This study provides insights into how aid recipients are influenced by the type of aid they receive. Results showed that, as expected, recipients of cash reported more autonomy, empowerment, and life improvements than recipients of vouchers. Training, another type of autonomy-oriented help, was positively related to empowerment, personal, and family change beliefs. These findings illustrate the benefits of autonomy-oriented help programmes in empowering people from extremely poor communities around the world, who rely on aid for extended periods of time.

Description

© 2018 The Authors. British Journal of Social Psychology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Psychological Society cc-by-nc-nd

Keywords

autonomy-oriented help, change beliefs, dependency-oriented help, empowerment, extreme poverty, Panama, receiving help

Citation

Alvarez, K., van, Leeuwen, E., Montenegro-Montenegro, E., & van, Vugt, M.. 2018. Empowering the poor: A field study of the social psychological consequences of receiving autonomy or dependency aid in Panama. British Journal of Social Psychology, 57(2). https://doi.org/10.1111/bjso.12234

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