Monday 15 February 2010

Framing effects and military service

Lots of folks have been reporting the results of a survey asking folks whether they support the current "heterosexuals-only" rule for the US military. If you frame the question as asking whether homosexuals should be able to serve, 59% somewhat favour or strongly favour their being able to serve; if you frame it as "gay men & lesbians", 70% support. Most folks have been focusing on whether the word "gay" is somehow happier than the word "homosexual". I wonder if it's something else: the latter framing reminds folks that individuals of both genders can be homosexual while the former, for many, may imply only men. And if respondent preferences over military service vary across the two groups, then that could easily drive the results.

It's easy to imagine folks who'd think that allowing gay men to serve might cause difficulty in the trenches if many male soldiers are homophobic, but who'd also think that allowing lesbians to serve would have far fewer problems. If there are more than a few folks with that set of beliefs, many of whom might not immediately have thought about lesbians when asked the question, then the results aren't that surprising. We'd really need a question asking "Do you favour or oppose {male and female homosexuals, gay men & lesbians} serving in the military?" to know whether folks are turned off by the word homosexual or whether they'd just forgotten that lesbians would also be allowed to serve in the military.

No comments:

Post a Comment