Become A Research Sponsor
We are currently seeking sponsors for a study on the Psychophysiology of Prejudice. Sponsors will be acknowledge in print in all published articles resulting from the study.
The study is seeking to understand the psychophysiological underpinnings of prejudice directed at LGBTQ individuals and, more specifically, same-sex couples. What makes people go from seeing gay, to seeing red? If we can develop a better understanding of physiological processes involved in prejudiced feelings and actions (i.e, hate crimes), we will be able to develop more tailored and effective interventions aimed at ultimately eradicating hate crimes altogether.
To make a donation to the research, click one of the "donate" buttons on this site to make a payment through PayPal. All fund will be managed by the University of Utah's Psychology Department and used directly for the research project described.
What Are the Goals of This Project?
Can hate crimes against sexual minorities be prevented?
What causes someone to have a violent reaction when witnessing expressions of affection between two men or two women?
Can science intervene to reduce prejudice and hate crimes?
The main research questions in this study relate to the psychophysiological responses that individuals have when they witness affection shared between two men or two women (i.e, public displays of affection, PDAs).
- Understand the psychophysiology of negative attitudes towards same-sex couples.
- Test an intervention to reduce subconscious (implicit) prejudices towards same-sex couples.
Do prejudiced individuals have greater sympathetic nervous system reactions when they witness a same-sex PDA compared to non-prejudiced individuals?
The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for what is called the "fight or flight" response - it is the part of our nervous system that prepares us to survive when threatened. This study will monitor the sympathetic nervous system of participants while they witness same-sex PDAs and then test an intervention designed to reduce negative attitudes towards LGBTQ individuals and same-sex couples.
Why Is This Research Important?
Despite the improvement in attitudes towards LGBTQ individuals, sexual minorities still face a great deal of violence, prejudice and bullying in their day-to-day lives. While legal rights have been improving in some nations, other nations have begun to move in the opposite direction, with some going as far as sanctioning anti-gay violence and abuse.
This research is trying to understand the physiological underpinnings of anti-gay attitudes. What exactly happens when an individual witnesses a same-sex display of affection? How does a prejudiced individual physiologically react when they see two men holding hands? In other words, how does someone go from seeing gay, to seeing red?
If an individual's "fight or flight" system is being activated when they witness two men holding hands, it might be this "activation" that leads to violent hate-based crimes. Consequently, understanding how people physiologically react to targets of their negative attitudes can help us understand how to intervene and prevent violent hate crimes.
This research could not be more timely. Despite the advances in legal protections for LGBTQ individuals in the USA and around the world, these advances are coinciding with increases in violence perpetrated against LGBTQ individuals and those perceived to be LGBTQ. New York City has seen an upsurge in anti-gay hate crime in 2013 that has escalated to murder. Young LGBTQ individuals continue to suffer daily harassment and bullying that all too often leads them to feel their only option for escape is to take their own lives. The Government of Russia has very recently passed laws that severely endanger LGBTQ individuals and their families. Prejudice lies at the root of many of these actions. Understanding more about prejudice can be the key to making the world a better (and safer) place for all LGBTQ individuals.
How Will The Funds Raised Be Used?
All funds raised will go towards the expenses of running the study, which has three parts:
- Initial online survey
- 2-hour in-lab visit
- Follow-up online survey
The actual cost of the study is $15,000. You can see a detailed breakdown of the study's budget below.
After finding out about the study, participants will complete an initial online questionnaire that collects their demographic information and measures their prejudice towards a variety of groups, including LGBTQ individuals.
A selection of these individuals will then be invited to participate in a 2 hour in-lab visit at the University of Utah. During this visit, participants will complete a number of tasks and watch a series of videos while various aspects of their physiological responses are monitored. We will use a small wireless wristband to monitor their electrodermal activity, which is a measurement that cannot easily be controlled by a participant. We will also collect samples of cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Although cortisol samples can be expensive to analyze, the samples can be frozen until sufficient funds are available to pay for the analysis.
At the end of the lab visit, participants will take part in an intervention designed to reduce homonegative attitudes (negative attitudes towards sexual minorities) and complete a questionnaire to measure the influence of the intervention.
One month after the lab visit, participants will be asked to complete a second online questionnaire which will determine whether the intervention had lasting effects on their attitudes and prejudices. With sufficient funding, we will repeat this measure again six months following the lab visit.
The primary investigator's salary is being paid by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), meaning that all funds raised by this campaign will go directly to costs of running this particular study.
The total budget for this study is just over $15,000. Using the Microryza Crowdfunding site we successfully raised $7856 towards the total cost of the study. The budget covers the costs of advertising to recruit participants, paying participants, paying research assistants, purchasing equipment and software required for the study, implicit attitude measurement and paying for analysis of hormone (cortisol) samples collected during the study.
Although we can now get the study funded with the funds we've raised thus far, in order to see the study through to completion we will need to continue to raise additional funds. Below are the details of what additional funding would mean for this study.
- We would be able to recruit more participants for the sample, making our results more reliable.
- We would be able to analyze the cortisol samples that we collect, instead of freezing them them until we have secured funding from another source. (This is huge and will make the results of our study much more interesting/useful).
- We would be able to pay the Open Access fee for any journals that require the author to pay in order for the study to be open access (i.e. available to all for free).
- We would be able to compensate participants for a 6 month follow-up survey - thereby further testing our intervention.
- If we raise enough money, we'll be able to run the study with different groups. Right now we are planning to run the study with heterosexual males viewing male same-sex PDAs. With more money, we could repeat the study using heterosexual females viewing female same-sex couples. We could also manipulate things such as the type of PDA (holding hands, kissing, prolonged kissing) or the gender presentation of the same-sex couples. We could also include additional variables, such as the age-discrepancy of couples. Additionally we could use different age groups for our participants. Right now we will be using participants between the ages of 18 and 30, but with additional funds we could also test groups over the age of 30 to see if there are different responses among different age groups.