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Framing Public Discussion of Gay Civil Unions
Unformatted Document Text:  Framing Public Discussion 25 prompts employed, while the quantitative analysis detected no significant main effects of the manipulation. Variations in group response. The expectation that group discourses would not be uniform in adopting a given frame fared well. Our qualitative assessments of the group conversations showed many instances in which, even when a given frame was privileged by manipulation, alternative frames were nevertheless in evidence. Similarly, our measures of pro/con argumentation and valenced statements illustrated substantial within-group disagreement, even when the groups were ideologically homogeneous and strongly “assisted” in their predispositions by hospitable frames. Thus even homogeneously conservative groups responding to a “homosexual marriage / special rights” frame produced some arguments (one, on average, per group) in support of granting legal standing to gay partnerships, as well as some favorable statements about such unions or about gays in general (again, one such statement per group). Heterogeneous groups were particularly variable in their responses. Ideological resonance. The findings illustrate clearly the importance of resonance for frame adoption. The ideological predispositions of the groups were a strong and consistent influence on the content and tone of their discussions. As expected, conservative groups generated discourses that were substantially more negative, in their opinionated statements and arguments, than those generated by liberal groups. Heterogeneous groups, again as predicted, generated the most balanced discussions. These ideological predispositions created environments that were differentially hospitable to the frames used to initiate discussion, as predicted. Yet, our expectation that conservative groups would prove most receptive to the “homosexual marriage / special rights” frame was not quite correct. Rather, it appears that the “marriage frame” was polarizing in its effect. Both liberal and conservative groups responded to

Authors: Price, Vincent., Nir, Lilach. and Cappella, Joseph.
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Framing Public Discussion
25
prompts employed, while the quantitative analysis detected no significant main effects of the
manipulation.
Variations in group response. The expectation that group discourses would not be
uniform in adopting a given frame fared well. Our qualitative assessments of the group
conversations showed many instances in which, even when a given frame was privileged by
manipulation, alternative frames were nevertheless in evidence. Similarly, our measures of
pro/con argumentation and valenced statements illustrated substantial within-group
disagreement, even when the groups were ideologically homogeneous and strongly “assisted” in
their predispositions by hospitable frames. Thus even homogeneously conservative groups
responding to a “homosexual marriage / special rights” frame produced some arguments (one, on
average, per group) in support of granting legal standing to gay partnerships, as well as some
favorable statements about such unions or about gays in general (again, one such statement per
group). Heterogeneous groups were particularly variable in their responses.
Ideological resonance. The findings illustrate clearly the importance of resonance for
frame adoption. The ideological predispositions of the groups were a strong and consistent
influence on the content and tone of their discussions. As expected, conservative groups
generated discourses that were substantially more negative, in their opinionated statements and
arguments, than those generated by liberal groups. Heterogeneous groups, again as predicted,
generated the most balanced discussions. These ideological predispositions created
environments that were differentially hospitable to the frames used to initiate discussion, as
predicted. Yet, our expectation that conservative groups would prove most receptive to the
“homosexual marriage / special rights” frame was not quite correct. Rather, it appears that the
“marriage frame” was polarizing in its effect. Both liberal and conservative groups responded to


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