Exploring the relationship between lay theories of gender and attitudes to abortion in the context of a national referendum on abortion policy

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Title: Exploring the relationship between lay theories of gender and attitudes to abortion in the context of a national referendum on abortion policy
Authors: O'Connor, CliodhnaMaher, Paul J.Kadianaki, Irini
Permanent link: http://hdl.handle.net/10197/10815
Date: 13-Jun-2019
Online since: 2019-07-01T11:00:55Z
Abstract: The relationship between lay theories of gender and attitudes to abortion policy has received minimal empirical attention. An ongoing theoretical debate in the psychological essentialism literature queries whether biological attributions causally influence social attitudes or primarily function to justify existing attitudinal commitments. The current research used the context of a national referendum on abortion in Ireland to investigate whether endorsement of certain gender theories is contingent on their rhetorical construction as supporting particular attitudes to abortion. Two experimental studies were conducted online in the three weeks preceding the Irish abortion referendum. The studies tested whether participants would adapt their causal gender beliefs after reading that biological (Study 1; N = 348) or social (Study 2; N = 241) accounts of gender supported or conflicted with their intended vote in the referendum. Both studies showed the opposite effect: causal gender theories presented as conflicting with participants’ voting intentions subsequently showed elevated support, relative to theories that purportedly aligned with participants’ voting intentions. While results confirm that lay theories of gender are mutable, the direction of effects does not support the proposition that gender theories are selectively endorsed to support existing socio-political attitudes to abortion. Potential mechanisms for the results observed are discussed.
Type of material: Journal Article
Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Journal: PLOS ONE
Volume: 14
Issue: 6
Start page: e0218333
Copyright (published version): 2019 the Authors
Keywords: Social theoryReligionIrish peopleTermination of pregnancyPolitical theoryGender discriminationSexual and gender issuesSocial research
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0218333
Language: en
Status of Item: Peer reviewed
Appears in Collections:Medicine Research Collection

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