Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Jennifer Erkulwater


As American political actors have framed poverty as a choice made by the unambitious, it has become clear that our society has a pervasive misunderstanding of poverty. Policy Feedback Theorists assert that the design of our welfare policies contributes to this fallacy, raising the question of whether there is a relationship between policy design and the way citizens act and feel. This thesis uses quantitative data from the American Citizen Participation Study and qualitative data from two original interviews to test the existence of “policy feedback effects” on program participants’ feelings of efficacy. Quantitative evidence suggests limited evidence of policy feedback effects among a homogenous sample, but I am unable to generalize these results for the broader population. Qualitative evidence corroborates the existence of feedback, but the data fail to make specific connections to program design. Overall, this inquiry highlights the need for methodological advancement within policy feedback theory in order to manage the democratic and human implications of policy feedback effects.