The Protestant work ethic (PWE), or the belief that hard work leads to success, is a popular belief across cultures. Much work indicates that PWE contributes to negative evaluations of disadvantaged groups presumably through the notion that they deserve their disadvantage for not working hard enough (“PWE-Justifier”). But there is another dimension of PWE that expresses the belief that everyone could succeed through hard work (“PWE-Equalizer”). We propose that the PWE-Justifier is meaningful in cultures that emphasize individualism and personal responsibility, but not in others. In a cross-cultural study, we compare how PWE-Justifier relates to evaluations of poor persons in the USA (individualist culture) and the Philippines (low individualist culture). In the USA sample, regression analysis indicated that internal attributions of poverty mediated the relationships of PWE-Justifier with negative stereotypes (R2 = .32) and with negative attitudes towards poor persons (R2 = .13). Bootstrapping analysis indicated that both indirect effects of PWE-Justifier were significant: Negative stereotypes, B = .17, SE = .03, p < .0001, 95% CI [.11, .24]; negative attitudes, B = 2.52, SE = 1.11, p = .014, 95% CI [0.49, 4.84]. The results were not found in the Philippine sample, where instead, PWE-Equalizer negatively predicted negative attitudes (R2 = .05) and positively predicted empathy (R2 = .05) for poor persons. The results are discussed in terms of how the negative consequences of PWE may derive from the cultural syndrome of individualism that emphasizes personal control and responsibility.