Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2018

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Vanessa Baird

Second Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Fitzgerald

Third Advisor

Dr. Angela Thieman Dino


Faced with the current opioid crisis, United States citizens do not agree as to what kind of aid, if any, the federal government should offer to help solve this problem. Therefore, using the current drug crisis as a lens, this paper explores what causes variation in public support for government intervention in crises. I hypothesize that punitive attitudes, helping behavior, personal well-being, and general support for welfare are all significant factors. To test this, I employ logistic regression models using data from the 2016 General Social Survey. Then, I compare the findings from this quantitative analysis to a case study analysis of Facebook comments on articles about the drug crisis, published by Florida newspapers. The results of both the quantitative and qualitative portions of this study show that Americans’ attitudes towards government intervention are significantly influenced by punitive attitudes and general support for welfare. Moreover, this study finds that citizens greatly desire a just and effective solution to what they consider not just a problem, but a true crisis.