Study Finds One's Perception of Gay Marriage Contingent Upon Presentation

( [email protected] ) Mar 17, 2004 09:02 AM EST

As gay marriage is emerging as highly debatable issue in the U.S., researchers at Cornell University conducted a survey to see how people’s perceptions on gay marriage are influenced, News 10 Now reported.

According to the survey, opposition to gay marriage was still strong across the nation. 75% of voters registered as independents are against gay marriage and only 30% of CNN viewers are in favor of gay marriage, while 15% of Fox News viewers are supportive of gay marriage, which indicates how people’s perceptions change depending on the ways the facts are presented.

The survey also found that the typical supporter of gay marriage is female, highly-educated, young, less religious, and registered as Democratic.

"We wanted to show what the key influences are on gay marriage and a lot of what shapes people's perceptions and attitudes on gay marriage, at this point, are not rational discussions, not a rational discussion among the public,” said Cornell Associate Professor of Communications Dietram Scheufele.

Instead, people's viewpoints on gay marriage are shaped by what the team refers to as "short-cuts," like their backgrounds, religious beliefs, political affiliations, and, shockingly, which television news channels they watch.

"There is something about turning to a certain medium and being exposed to certain ways of thinking about the medium, certain ways of presenting a certain issue, that makes you feel differently about the issue. Obviously, different cable news channels have different ways of covering the issues. They bring in different experts. They present different facts, and they present the facts in different ways,” said Scheufele.