Search TESS:

.

Reframing the Marriage Debate: Wording, Context and Intensity of Support for Marriage and Civil Unions


Download data and study materials

 


Principal Investigator(s):

Brian J. McCabe
Georgetown University
Email: mccabeb@georgetown.edu
Home Page: http://brianjamesmccabe.com/

Jennifer A. Heerwig
Stony Brook University
Email: jenheerwig@gmail.com
Home Page: http://www.jenheerwig.com/

Sample size: 3000
Field period: 5/20/2009-7/29/2009

 

Abstract:

The extension of marriage or civil unions to gay and lesbian couples has emerged as one of the most oft-debated policy issues in recent years. In response to the broadened public debate, research and polling organizations have sought to measure public attitudes on the topic. These polls vary widely in both the frames and context. Some polls frame the issue as one of gay and lesbian marriage, while others ask about same-sex marriage or homosexual marriage; likewise, many of the polls ask about marriage and civil unions concurrently, while others inquire about one without reference to the other. In this paper, we report the results of an Internet experiment on a nationally representative sample of American adults testing for framing and context effects in public attitudes towards the legal recognition of gay and lesbian relationships. We report no difference in mean support when respondents are asked about gay and lesbian, same-sex or homosexual marriage and civil unions, but observe substantial variation in the strength of opposition or support based on these frames. We also report an increase in support for civil unions when asked after the question about marriage, but do not find statistically significant context effects for marriage.

Hypotheses:

We hypothesize that question wording (e.g., gay vs. same sex vs. homosexual) and context (the order of the questions on marriage & civil unions) affect levels of support and/or intensity of support.

Experimental Manipulation:

We manipulate wording and context in the research questions.

Key Dependent Variables:

Support for marriage (Strongly support, Support, Oppose, Strongly oppose)
Support for civil unions (Strongly support, Support, Oppose, Strongly oppose)

Summary of Findings:

We report no difference in mean support when respondents are asked about gay and lesbian, same-sex or homosexual marriage and civil unions, but observe substantial variation in the strength of opposition or support based on these frames. We also report an increase in support for civil unions when asked after the question about marriage, but do not find statistically significant context effects for marriage.

References:

McCabe, Brian J. and Jennifer A. Heerwig. 2011. Reframing the Marriage Debate: Wording, Context, and Intensity of Support for Marriage and Civil Unions. International Journal of Public Opinion Research.


Copyright © 2014, TESS