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ResourcesResearch Integrity“Science advances incrementally:” Researchers who debunked gay canvassing study move field forward – Interview by Retraction Watch ( Alison McCook2016)

Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

“Science advances incrementally:” Researchers who debunked gay canvassing study move field forward – Interview by Retraction Watch ( Alison McCook2016)

 


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Excerpt: How easy is it to change people’s minds? In 2014, a Science study suggested that a short conversation could have a lasting impact on people’s opinions about gay marriage – but left readers disappointed when it was retracted only months later, after the first author admitted to falsifying some of the details of the study, including data collection. We found out about the problems with the paper thanks to Joshua Kalla at the University of California, Berkeley and David Broockman at Stanford University, who tried to repeat the remarkable findings. Last week, Kalla and Broockman published a Science paper suggesting what the 2014 paper showed was, in fact, correct – they found that 10-minute conversations about the struggles facing transgender people reduced prejudices against them for months afterwards. We spoke with Kalla and Broockman about the remarkable results from their paper, and the shadow of the earlier retraction.

Retraction Watch: Let’s start with your latest paper. You found that when hundreds of people had a short (average of 10 minutes) face-to-face conversation with a canvasser (some of whom were transgender), they showed more acceptance of transgender people three months later than people with the same level of “transphobia” who’d talked to the canvasser about recycling. Were you surprised by this result, given that a similar finding from Michael LaCour and Donald Green, with same-sex marriage, had been retracted last year?

Joshua Kalla and David Broockman: When Science retracted that study, it did not disprove the original hypothesis that high-quality, two-way canvass conversations about same-sex marriage could change attitudes. Retracting the study simply meant the hypothesis was unproven. With that said, it’s also important to note that that study (and our study) are not the only studies of canvassing — there’s a lot of work that’s been done on this general topic for over a decade that finds high-quality conversations can have large effects (see more below). So we had an open mind about the potential for these very in-depth conversations to have meaningful impacts on prejudice outcomes. At the same time, we also know many great ideas don’t end up working, so we weren’t sure exactly what to expect (see below). That’s why we have data!

Click here to read the full interview
About the previous retracted paper



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