Though the researchers point that the study's sample wasn't representative of the U.S. population, the findings are potentially groundbreaking. Pew Research Center reports:
"Do conventional public opinion surveys under-report the proportion of gays and lesbians in the population? And do they underestimate the share of Americans who hold anti-gay views?
A team of researchers from Ohio State and Boston Universities say the answer to both questions is yes.
“We find substantial under-reporting of LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] identity and behaviors as well as underreporting of anti-gay sentiment …even under anonymous and very private conditions,” the researchers wrote in a working paper just published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
The study was conducted by economists Katherine B. Coffman and Lucas C. Coffman of Ohio State University and Keith M. Marzilli Ericson of Boston University
They used a novel research method that, in addition to the usual privacy and anonymity afforded by the best practice survey techniques, goes further and makes it virtually impossible to connect individual respondents with their answers to sensitive questions. They call this technique the “Veiled Report” method.
Then they compared their findings with the results obtained as part of the “Veiled Report” experiment with responses from a control group that answered questions posed in a more conventional way. Their goal was to see how social desirability bias—the tendency for people to not to reveal behaviors or attitudes that they fear may be viewed as outside the mainstream—may affect reporting on these sensitive topics..."
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