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Durably reducing transphobia: A field experiment on door-to-door canvassing

Science  08 Apr 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6282, pp. 220-224
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad9713

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Not just turnout, but turnaround matters

In the last several U.S. presidential elections, the campaign mantra has focused on making sure that voters already aligned with one's candidate do get out to vote. There is a long history of unsuccessful efforts to change people's attitudes. Nevertheless, Broockman and Kalla conducted a field experiment showing that Miami voters shifted their attitudes toward transgender individuals and maintained those changed positions for 3 months (see the Perspective by Paluck).

Science, this issue p. 220; see also p. 147

Abstract

Existing research depicts intergroup prejudices as deeply ingrained, requiring intense intervention to lastingly reduce. Here, we show that a single approximately 10-minute conversation encouraging actively taking the perspective of others can markedly reduce prejudice for at least 3 months. We illustrate this potential with a door-to-door canvassing intervention in South Florida targeting antitransgender prejudice. Despite declines in homophobia, transphobia remains pervasive. For the intervention, 56 canvassers went door to door encouraging active perspective-taking with 501 voters at voters’ doorsteps. A randomized trial found that these conversations substantially reduced transphobia, with decreases greater than Americans’ average decrease in homophobia from 1998 to 2012. These effects persisted for 3 months, and both transgender and nontransgender canvassers were effective. The intervention also increased support for a nondiscrimination law, even after exposing voters to counterarguments.

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