Look­ing closer at sci­en­tific stud­ies

Los Angeles Times - - OPINION -

Re “How fake science gets pub­lished,” Opin­ion, May 28

Charles Seife at­tributes the pub­li­ca­tion of false data in part to the sur­pris­ing and at­ten­tion-get­ting na­ture of the find­ings that per­sonal con­tact mit­i­gates anti-gay prej­u­dice.

Th­ese find­ings are nei­ther sur­pris­ing nor new. There is a long his­tory of the em­pir­i­cal study of the “in­ter­group con­tact hy­poth­e­sis.”

The first im­por­tant study of the im­por­tance of con­tact in re­duc­ing prej­u­dice was pub­lished in 1951 by Morton Deutsch and Mary Evans Collins. They showed that in­di­vid­u­als as­signed to in­te­grated hous­ing projects de­vel­oped more pos­i­tive in­ter­ra­cial at­ti­tudes than peo­ple as­signed to seg­re­gated hous­ing.

In 2011, Tom Pet­ti­grew and Linda Tropp did an im­por­tant meta-anal­y­sis of 515 stud­ies that demon­strated clear and strong sup­port for the ef­fect of con­tact on re­duc­ing prej­u­dice.

And Greg Herek and his col­leagues have specif­i­cally shown re­duc­tion of anti­gay prej­u­dice as a re­sult of in­ter­per­sonal con­tact.

The dis­cred­ited study by Michael LaCour and Don­ald Green should not de­tract from the large body of re­search show­ing that in­ter­group con­tact does change at­ti­tudes.

Glo­ria Cowan

Cul­ver City The writer is a pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus of psy­chol­ogy at Cal State San Bernardino.

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