No, Wait, Short Conversations Really Can Reduce Prejudice – The Atlantic

In early 2015, a team of 56 volunteers knocked on the doors of conservative voters in Miami, Florida to talk about transgender rights. Local officials had recently passed a law that protected transgender people from discrimination, but LGBT organizations were concerned about backlash, repeals, and counter-legislation (of the kind recently seen in North Carolina).

So volunteers from the Los Angeles LGBT Center and SAVE, a Florida LGBT organization asked voters what they thought about the recent law? Would they watch this video and talk about their reactions? Could they talk about a time when they had been on the receiving end of negative judgment or stigma? Did that help them to understand what a transgender life is like? Did that change their views?

It was a deliberate strategy, and it worked—durably and dramatically. These ten-minute conversations, known as “deep canvassing,” substantially reduced prejudice against transgender people for at least three months, even in the face of anti-transgender ad campaigns. Not all the voters were swayed, but on average, they experienced a drop in transphobia greater than the fall in homophobia among average Americans from 1998 to 2012. The canvassers, through ten-minute chats, had produced the equivalent of 14 years of social change.

From: No, Wait, Short Conversations Really Can Reduce Prejudice – The Atlantic {via Zac}

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4 thoughts on “No, Wait, Short Conversations Really Can Reduce Prejudice – The Atlantic

  1. I’m dubious, first because the response rate to follow-ups was freakishly high, and second, because they threw everything at them (methodological speaking), so that it’s impossible to tell what, if anything, actually changed opinions.

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    • *shrugs* There’s definitely a sort of conservative voter that is “really unsettled” by folks that aren’t like them. If given half a chance, they come up with the worst to think about people they’ve never met.

      And then they meet the folks, and they say, “gee, they’re just like us!”

      (I am actually speaking of a particular WASPy town in PA being worried to bits about black people moving in — my relatives there thought the worrying was complete silliness — which it totally was).

      Transgender folks make this pretty easy — because they REALLY WANT to fit into boxes that people have already made. Now, they might not fit as well as some of us, but… they’re trying.

      This feels a lot different to these folks, I suspect, than the woman who wears hijab all the time and won’t talk with men.

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    • They claim the response rate is crazy high because of the pre-screening survey they used, and that this is one of the important results of the work. It’s not clear how this biases the final sample but that probably shouldn’t matter to GOTV strategists.

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