Author ORCID Identifier



Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) and Extension professionals need to understand the lived experience of poverty because it affects every aspect of an individual’s life. Poverty is related to inadequate nutrition and food insecurity, lack of access to health care, insufficient child care, unsafe neighborhoods, lack of affordable housing, under-resourced schools, and a lower quality of life. Attitudes toward poverty vary widely among Americans and can be categorized as either internal/individual attributions (e.g., laziness, welfare dependency, etc.) or systemic/structural attributions (e.g., unemployment, inflation, etc.). Individuals holding internal attributions toward poverty are more likely to have negative feelings toward impoverished individuals. As such, efforts to educate FCS college students, Extension agents, and all Americans on the day-to-day reality of those in poverty are important. Extension-sponsored Community Action Poverty Simulation (CAPS) programs are effective in changing participants’ attitudes toward poverty. This research used Reflexive Thematic Analysis to analyze 56 reflection papers written by college students enrolled in a family resource management course. Three themes emerged from the research: (a) empathy, (b) a turn from internal attributions, and (c) systematic attributions. This research has implications for Extension and FCS professionals offering CAPS programming in higher education settings.



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