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Framing Public Discussion of Gay Civil Unions
Unformatted Document Text:  Framing Public Discussion 24 [Figure 1 here] Valenced statements. The overall feeling of the groups toward civil unions or gays in general is perhaps best captured by the direction measure (column 4 of Table 1). Here again we find very pronounced differences between conservative, heterogeneous, and liberal groups (p<.001) with no main effect of, or interaction with, the framing manipulation. Negatively valenced statements show the same pattern. Conservative groups consistently made more negative statements than did liberal groups, with heterogeneous groups falling in between. The framing manipulation interacted with group type, however, in affecting both positive and mixed-valence statements (marginally significant in the case of positive statements, p <.10, and p < .05 in the case of mixed statements.) An inspection of the means in Table 1 indicates a pattern in positively-valenced statements similar to that for pro-argumentation: The differential in positive valence between liberal and conservative group response was greater in response to the “homosexual marriage” frame (a 5-to-1 liberal-to-conservative ratio) than in response to the “civil union” frame (an even 1-to-1 ratio). At the same time, the “civil unions” frame seemed to have elicited a large number of mixed-valence statements from conservative groups. Discussion Taken together, our findings suggest that the framing manipulation did influence the ways groups discussed the prospect of legalizing gay partnerships. However, in all cases these effects were contingent on the ideological makeup of the groups. Our first hypothesis, which predicted main effects of the frames on group discourse, was not supported. Qualitative analysis suggested but did not clearly confirm that frame adoption varied as a simple function of the two question

Authors: Price, Vincent., Nir, Lilach. and Cappella, Joseph.
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Framing Public Discussion
24
[Figure 1 here]
Valenced statements. The overall feeling of the groups toward civil unions or gays in
general is perhaps best captured by the direction measure (column 4 of Table 1). Here again we
find very pronounced differences between conservative, heterogeneous, and liberal groups
(p<.001) with no main effect of, or interaction with, the framing manipulation. Negatively
valenced statements show the same pattern. Conservative groups consistently made more
negative statements than did liberal groups, with heterogeneous groups falling in between.
The framing manipulation interacted with group type, however, in affecting both positive
and mixed-valence statements (marginally significant in the case of positive statements, p <.10,
and p < .05 in the case of mixed statements.) An inspection of the means in Table 1 indicates a
pattern in positively-valenced statements similar to that for pro-argumentation: The differential
in positive valence between liberal and conservative group response was greater in response to
the “homosexual marriage” frame (a 5-to-1 liberal-to-conservative ratio) than in response to the
“civil union” frame (an even 1-to-1 ratio). At the same time, the “civil unions” frame seemed to
have elicited a large number of mixed-valence statements from conservative groups.
Discussion
Taken together, our findings suggest that the framing manipulation did influence the ways
groups discussed the prospect of legalizing gay partnerships. However, in all cases these effects
were contingent on the ideological makeup of the groups. Our first hypothesis, which predicted
main effects of the frames on group discourse, was not supported. Qualitative analysis suggested
but did not clearly confirm that frame adoption varied as a simple function of the two question


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