Kevin Lewis

December 08, 2018

Persuasion and ballot initiatives: How persuasive were the televised campaign ads on same-sex marriage?
Andrew Flores
Politics, Groups, and Identities, forthcoming


Initiative campaigns, unlike candidate-centered elections, are efforts to mobilize and persuade residents of state and local governments on specific policies. Previous studies have conflicting findings whether or not initiative campaigns can persuade voters. For issues like same-sex marriage, voters may be even more difficult to persuade because their attitudes may be crystallized. Four states voted on marriage equality in November 2012, which resulted in historic victories for the proponents of same-sex marriage. This led to a belief that the marriage equality campaigns won because of their strategic communications. I examine the effect of televised campaign ads on people’s attitudes toward same-sex marriage by combining market-advertising data from the 2012 campaigns and a rolling cross-sectional national survey. Media markets that spill over into neighboring states are analyzed as a natural experiment, isolating the effect of televised advertisements from other campaign efforts. The results suggest that people were greatly affected by campaign ads aired by the groups opposed to marriage equality, and the ads in favor of marriage equality were ineffective. When competing sides are framing the rights of sexual and gender minorities, those opposed retain an unequal advantage in changing the minds of the public through televised media.

Lay Theories of Gender Influence Support for Women and Transgender People’s Legal Rights
Leigh Wilton et al.
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming


Essentialism - the belief that differences between groups of people are biologically based and unchangeable - is strongly associated with prejudice toward a variety of social groups. The present work examines how gender essentialism shapes support for the rights of two marginalized gender groups: women and transgender people. Study 1 provides correlational evidence that endorsement of gender essentialism is a robust predictor of people’s opposition to both women’s and transgender people’s rights, over and above other individual difference measures. Studies 2 and 3 provide evidence that exposure to anti-essentialist messages about gender indirectly increases the support for women’s and transgender people’s rights. Study 4 examines the underlying psychological process, showing that gender essentialism reduction indirectly increases the support for women’s and transgender people’s rights through prejudice. Implications for research on lay theories and transgender people are discussed.

Training the Porous Body: Evangelicals and the Ex‐Gay Movement
Sophie Bjork‐James
American Anthropologist, December 2018, Pages 647-658


In this article, I examine how US evangelical opposition to LGBT rights stems from a unique understanding of sexuality and the person. As my respondents explained to me in over sixteen months of field research, evangelical rejection of LGBT individuals and practices is rooted not simply in prejudice but also in a culturally specific notion of personhood that requires Christian bodies to orient themselves to the divine. In evangelical Christianity, the body, along with its capacity to feel and communicate, is understood as a porous vessel receptive to communication with God. In contrast to a dominant idea that sexual orientations shape individual identities, sexuality within this religious world instead facilitates the movement of moral forces across individual bodies and geographic scales. Sexual desires and sexual acts are broadly understood in evangelical cosmology as communicative mediums for supernatural forces. This understanding of sexuality as a central component of moral agency shapes widespread practices of ostracism of people who identify as LGBT within evangelicalism and often leads to anti‐LGBT political positions. Claiming an LGBT identity is seen as making one a distinct kind of person incommensurate with evangelical porosity.

Understanding sexual prejudice: The role of political ideology and strategic essentialism
Crystal Hoyt, Thekla Morgenroth & Jeni Burnette
Journal of Applied Social Psychology, forthcoming


Despite the increased visibility and acceptance of the LGBTQ community, sexual minorities continue to face prejudice and discrimination in many domains. Past research has shown that this prejudice is more prevalent among those holding conservative political views. In two studies, we merge strategic essentialism and motivated ideology theoretical perspectives to empirically investigate the link between political orientation and sexual prejudice. More specifically, we examine how conservatives strategically use different forms of essentialism to support their views of gay individuals and their reactions to messages aimed at changing essentializing beliefs. In Study 1 (N = 220), we demonstrate that conservatives endorse social essentialism (i.e., the belief that gay and straight people are fundamentally different from each other) more than liberals do. In turn, they blame gay individuals more for their sexual orientation and show more prejudice toward them. At the same time, conservatives endorse trait essentialism (i.e., the belief that sexual orientation is a fixed attribute that cannot be changed) less than liberals do, which in turn predicts greater levels of blame and prejudice for conservatives relative to liberals. In Study 2 (N = 217), we additionally show that conservatives, but not liberals, are resistant to messages aimed at increasing trait essentialism and reducing prejudice toward sexual minorities. We discuss theoretical and practical implications of these findings.

Social anxiety among transgender and gender nonconforming individuals: The role of gender-affirming medical interventions
Rachel Butler et al.
Journal of Abnormal Psychology, forthcoming 


Transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) individuals are at heightened risk for psychological distress, including social anxiety (SA). The current study aimed to examine whether gender-affirming medical interventions (GAMIs) are associated with lower SA among TGNC individuals. Two hundred ninety-one transfeminine and 424 transmasculine participants completed the Trans Health Survey, which assessed SA and interest in or utilization of GAMIs (genital surgery, chest surgery, hormone use, speech therapy, tracheal shave or Adam’s apple removal, hair removal). Transfeminine individuals who had completed genital surgery, chest surgery, tracheal shave or Adam’s apple removal, hair removal, hormone treatment, or speech therapy reported lower SA than those planning to undergo the intervention, and those who had completed genital or chest surgery reported lower SA than those considering it. Transmasculine individuals who had completed chest surgery, a hysterectomy, or used hormones reported lower SA than those who were planning to do so, and those who had completed genital surgery had lower SA than those considering it. Among those expressing interest, utilization of GAMIs is associated with less SA. GAMIs may result in greater conformity to societal expectations regarding binary gender norms, thus decreasing discrimination, rejection, victimization, and nonaffirmation. Increased alignment of physical characteristics and gender identity may increase self-esteem.


from the


A weekly newsletter with free essays from past issues of National Affairs and The Public Interest that shed light on the week's pressing issues.


to your National Affairs subscriber account.

Already a subscriber? Activate your account.


Unlimited access to intelligent essays on the nation’s affairs.

Subscribe to National Affairs.