When contact changes minds
Read the article: LaCour, M. J., & Green, D. P. (2014). When contact changes minds: An experiment on transmission of support for gay equality. Science, 346(6215), 1366-1369… and answer the following questions below:
You read in the news that a drug prevents cancer, but when you look at the research you
find that the drug reduces certain causes of cancer. You read that a chemical has been
shown to cause cancer, but when you look at the research you find that it is only shown to
be dangerous only in massive doses. In order to evaluate research claims, you have to be
able to dig into a study and find out how the researcher manipulated conditions and
measured outcomes. This assignment takes you through the Methods section of an
experiment and asks you to consider the way it was designed.
Read Lacour and Green (2014)1 and answer the following questions:
1. Who were the participants in this study? Do you have any concerns that their
responses to contact with a gay canvasser might not be representative of the way
other people might respond?
2. Using design notation (p292-293 on Social Research Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. 7th edition), draw out the design for this experiment (only draw
out the first two observations). If you have difficulty doing this in a word processor,
you can hand this assignment in in person.
3. What was the independent variable in this experiment? In 1-2 sentences, briefly
describe a different way of manipulating the participants that would have generated a
similar effect or a different group that might have been affected by a similar
4. What were the dependent variables used in the experiment? In 1-2 sentences, briefly
propose a different way of measuring the effect of contact with a gay canvasser.
5. Under the Outcome Measurement heading, the authors say that the experiment was
conducted as a double blind. The canvassers didn’t know that the participants were
taking a survey and the participants didn’t know that the canvassers were related to
the survey. In 2-3 sentences, why was this important? What could have happened if
either the canvassers or the participants knew about the manipulation?