Panel Paper: Policy Narratives and Public Attitudes Toward Gay and Lesbian Parenting Policy

Saturday, November 9, 2013 : 9:00 AM
Plaza I (Ritz Carlton)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Geoboo Song, University of Arkansas and Michael D Jones, Virginia Tech
The recent policy debate over gay and lesbian parenting holds dire ramifications for general public welfare and particularly, for child welfare. Much previous research shows that public attitudes toward highly contentious and morally charged policy issues such as this are mainly driven by individuals' intrinsic values and beliefs, notably cultural predispositions. More importantly, previous studies claim that when related policy narratives are delivered within a policy debate of this sort, culturally biased individuals interpret such information in a way which supports their policy reasoning only when it is congruent with their prior values and beliefs, and discard it when it is not, in an attempt to justify their predetermined policy positions. Following this intellectual tradition, we systematically investigate how policy narratives on the child welfare effects of gay and lesbian parenting are processed by individuals of diverse perspectives on desirable social orderings, focusing on source credibility and information framing. Based upon an Internet survey experiment of 1,800 American adults conducted in 2011, we test hypotheses pertaining to three primary elements of policy narratives that are expected to influence individuals’ policy reasoning and attitude formation: (1) vouching (2) framing and (3) story structure.