Takeaways: A breakdown of How to Change Attitudes toward LGBT Rights lecture

Sarah Muller

“Listen, We Need to Talk” co-authors Melissa Michelson and Brian Harrison led a lecture about How to Change Attitudes toward LGBT Rights on Wednesday in the Sun Room of the Memorial Union.

The duo’s book took a variety of experiments that looked into ways people and society change attitudes. Here are the takeaways:

Public opinion doesn’t change quickly: While there are some times of fluctuation, it takes a lot of time for members of society to dynamically change their minds about social issues. Harrison broke it down to advocacy campaigns and the idea that the older generation is dying. Both of those don’t make much of a difference. However, people creating interpersonal contact with LGBTQ+ members helps boost this idea and how LGBTQ+ members are conveyed in the media.

Theory of Dissonant Identity Priming: “People are updating their opinions to better align with preferences by people they respect and with whom they identify in the same way,” Harrison said.

Three-step change: When people share identities with others, they are open to discussion and are more likely to change attitudes.

Public opinion does matter: What the general public thinks should help shape the policies of the country. For example, in 1996, a majority of the public believed marriage should be between a man and a woman, so Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act. However, in 2015, the Supreme Court ruled in support of same-sex marriage.