This study explores rural Midwestern attitudes (N = 126) toward 21 government benefit programs. Findings indicated that there were substantial differences between male and female respondents with male respondents believing that means-tested government benefits were too generous by almost a full standard deviation (d = .90) in comparison with female respondents. Entitlement programs were also deemed too generous, but by a lesser effect (d = .67). No gender differences were noted for farm programs. Linear regression explained 23.3% of the variance in attitudes toward mean-tested programs, 20.8% for entitlement programs, but only 8.1% for farm-related programs. Findings are interpreted to suggest that rural males psychological reactance to threats to farm autonomy may undergird male antipathy to government benefit programs, but that rural females may represent a potential constituency supportive of more socially just and compassionate social welfare programs.

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