Durably Reducing Transphobia: A Field Experiment on Door-to-Door Canvassing

Durably Reducing Transphobia: A Field Experiment on Door-to-Door Canvassing

By
David Broockman, Joshua Kalla
Science. April
8, 2016, Vol. 352, Issue 6282, Pages 220-224
  • Winner of the 2017 Cialdini Prize from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology

Existing research depicts intergroup prejudices as deeply ingrained, requiring intense intervention to lastingly reduce. Here, we show that a single approximately 10-minute conversation encouraging actively taking the perspective of others can markedly reduce prejudice for at least 3 months. We illustrate this potential with a door-to-door canvassing intervention in South Florida targeting antitransgender prejudice. Despite declines in homophobia, transphobia remains pervasive. For the intervention, 56 canvassers went door to door encouraging active perspective-taking with 501 voters at voters’ doorsteps. A randomized trial found that these conversations substantially reduced transphobia, with decreases greater than Americans’ average decrease in homophobia from 1998 to 2012. These effects persisted for 3 months, and both transgender and nontransgender canvassers were effective. The intervention also increased support for a nondiscrimination law, even after exposing voters to counterarguments.