Posts made in February 2019

Addicted to being busy?

February 15, 2019

Is your plate too full? Are you slammed or swamped? Or is your work ethic in overdrive?

We live in an era where flaunting our hectic schedules is considered cool and multitasking is productive. But for some of us, there is another dynamic at work: We are just addicted to being busy, according to a recent report by DNA.

Seema Hingorrany, a clinical psychologist and trauma therapist whose practice is in Mumbai comes across such people all the time, she says.

“People use the ‘I’m so busy’ phrase … to seek approval, …[to] appear busier than they actually are,” Hingorrany told the India-based news outlet. “Most people are lacking awareness or mindfulness. They are on hyper mode, on autopilot …. Most [finally are driven to] seek help when they take on too much stress and go into depression, or start having anxiety.

Bhakti Thakkar Bauva, a consultant clinical psychologist at Fortis Hiranandani Hospital in Vashi, sees a lot of people with this go-go psychology between the ages of 25 and 45, she told DNA. “They are mostly professionals who are entrepreneurs with their own business—or sometimes working in a multinational corporation in leadership roles. I, personally, have seen almost equal number of males and females, who use busyness as a coping mechanism,” she says. They are aware that they are busy all the time, but feel that there is no other way, and theirs is the best approach.

Indeed, “…the word, busy, has become synonymous with being successful. If you are a ‘busy’ person you are automatically important and sought-after, “ Mansi Hasan, a clinical psychologist who practices in Mumbai tells DNA.

She adds that FOMO (fear of missing out), high drive, and our environment are “hugely responsible”  for this addiction, as they are constantly putting pressure on us to compete in a world that is rapidly evolving around us.

People who are prone to exhibit the addiction have Type A personalities, she says, and typically exhibit behaviors such as aggression,competitiveness, impatience, and a desire for control.

Hingorrany sees clients suffering from severe burnout, chronic fatigue syndrome and major depressive episodes. They also suffer from anxiety symptoms. People also complain about anger, pain disorders and other physiological issues.

Most experts believe that the addiction starts as a coping strategy. Bauva gives examples like, “I am finding it difficult to sleep at night, so let me work so much that I pass out due to exhaustion …. It means that the individual has an imbalanced, stressful life, where the problems are not resolved and are getting piled up.

“As the concerns are not going anywhere, they will only magnify with time,”she warns.

If you recognize yourself in this story, Mansi Hasan says the the following tips might help:

  • Spend at least 30 minutes daily with yourself doing nothing.
  • Restrict your screen time.
  • Slow down, don’t attempt to be superhuman.
  • Initiate boredom.
  • Sleep and eat well.
  • Spend time with nature. Use your five senses to rejuvenate yourself.
  • Connect to your inner self.
  • Don’t be task-oriented, be life-oriented.
  • Seek happiness, but not in the form of materialistic success.

Research contact: @dna

Allswell rolls out tiny home retail concept for mattresses, bedding, and more

February 15, 2019

Bigger isn’t always better, especially when it comes to mattress prices. To celebrate its commitment to offering tiny prices married with luxe quality, Allswella one-year-old digital startup from Walmart that, in addition to mattresses, offers a chic, contemporary line of home goods—has launched a tiny home retail concept this month.

The custom-built, highly-stylized and functional house on wheels will be open to the public for viewings and shopping. Featuring the brand’s two mattresses—The Allswell and The Luxe Hybrid—among a bevy of shoppable bedding elements and social media-friendly vignettes, the home made its debut in New York City on February 7, before departing on a coast-to-coast tour.

The 238 square-foot home, custom-built by Columbus, Ohio-based  Modern Tiny Living, comprises four rooms and showcases the brand’s two signature mattresses—one in a sleeping area and one on a convertible daybed in the living area..

“We have had customers begging us to come to their cities so they could test out our mattresses,” says Allswell Brand President Arlyn Davich, adding,. “We couldn’t think of a better way to do so than … literally welcoming people into our home, allowing them to fully immerse themselves in the brand.”

Upon entering the Allswell tiny home, visitors will be encouraged to pull a surprise promo code from a “Dream Jar.” As guests explore the tiny home’s quarters, they can shop and immediately buy the Allswell mattress and bedding items they see. The “Dream Jar” discounts will range from 10%-20% off and unique codes ranging from $150-$500 off.

From a custom-tiled “It Was All a Dream” shower to a bird’s eye photobooth looking down on the master-suite mattress where visitors cans pose among pillow props and customized signs, the tiny home is also entertaining.

those that just can’t get enough, an Allswell-designed tiny home will be available for purchase beginning February 7on https://allswellhome.com/pages/tiny-home with a starting price of $100,000.

Over the course of three months, the Allswell tiny home will travel across the country, making numerous stops including: New York City, Philadelphia, Washington,DC, Atlanta, Nashville, Austin, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Portland (Oregon). To follow the tour, see specific dates and locations and learn when additional stops get announced, visit https://allswellhome.com/tiny-home.

Research contact: taylorf@alisonbrodmc.com

Trump’s DHS lays waste to task forces shielding elections from foreign meddling

February 15, 2019

At just the time when the United States should be defending the sanctity of its electoral process, the Trump administration is cutting back on efforts to fight foreign interference at ballot boxes nationwide, The Daily Beast reported on February 13.

Indeed, two teams of federal officials assembled to fight encroachment are polling places by foreign powers are being dramatically downsized, three current and former Department of Homeland Security officials told the daily news outlet exclusively And now, those sources say they fear the department won’t prepare adequately for election threats in 2020.

“The clear assessment from the intelligence community is that 2020 is going to be the perfect storm,” said a DHS official familiar with the teams. “We know Russia is going to be engaged. Other state actors have seen the success of Russia and realize the value of disinformation operations. So it’s very curious why the task forces were demoted in the bureaucracy and the leadership has not committed resources to prepare for the 2020 election.”

The task forces, part of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), were assembled in response to Russian meddling during the 2016 presidential election. One focuses in part on securing election infrastructure and the other focuses on foreign influence efforts, including social media disinformation campaigns.

According to The Daily Beast’s report this week, one of the task forces is now half the size it was a few months ago—and there is no indication that DHS senior political leadership will staff it up or sustain it. Instead, there are concerns it will completely wither away. The other task force also shrank significantly shortly after the midterms, according to the Beast’s sources, and before its members produced a thorough assessment of what happened during the 2018 elections.

“Our key allies are wondering why the United States is not more coordinated and not more proactive in dealing with this,” said one of the DHS officials. “They don’t understand why the U.S. is not getting its act together.”

A DHS spokesperson confirmed that some people have been taken off the task forces and moved to other roles in the department. The spokesperson added that the department is bringing on new people to do election security work.

“As recently as this morning, Director [Christopher] Krebs [of CISA] confirmed election security remains a priority for [the agency] in his testimony before the House Committee on Homeland Security—laying out the agency’s plan to work with state and local election officials on broader engagement, better defining risk to election systems, and understanding the resources to manage that risk,” Sara Sendek, the DHS spokesperson, told the Daily Beast.

 “In the run up to the 2018 elections, DHS staffed the newly created [the] Elections Task Force and Countering Foreign Influence Task Force by temporarily assigning personnel from across the department. The work of these task forces continues to this day and is being institutionalized as a permanent effort. While some of the personnel who were brought on to serve on these task forces in temporary assignments have returned to their regular roles, we are also currently hiring new employees into permanent election positions to build out our team and support our efforts for 2020 and beyond,” Sendek assured the news outlet.

However,one lawmaker with knowledge of the formation of CISA said the task forces were never intended to be permanent.

“In some sense it’s not surprising that these changes are happening,” he said. “There was nothing set in stone that said these teams were going to stay in formation. At least that was my understanding.”

Others said they found the change concerning.

“The Trump administration intelligence chiefs in their worldwide threat assessment clearly stated that the use of influence operations from countries like Russia, China and Iran poses a significant threat to the country,” said John Cohen, the former deputy undersecretary for Intelligence and Analysis at DHS. “If these reports are true, it’s highly disturbing that the department and the administration are not more focused on dealing with that threat.”

“It won’t be 2016 all over again—the threat is changing,” said a former DHS official. “A thinly staffed task force working on that is not going to be equipped to keep up with the adversary.”

The changes appear to reflect the White House’s lack of interest in beefing up election security, Paul Rosenzweig, formerly deputy assistant secretary for Policy at DHS, told the news outlet.

“If the president isn’t interested and there is no strategy, it’s no surprise that DHS is not wasting its time,” said Rosenzweig, now a senior fellow at the R Street Institute. “The failure of the White House to take this seriously is perhaps its single most significant dereliction of duty.”

Research contact: ERIN.BANCO@THEDAILYBEAST.COM

Hopes are (1,050 feet) high for weddings at top of Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2019

Two couples—Fabiana Faria and Helena Barquet of New York City; and Nachiket Patel and Chitra Pathak, originally from Mumbai—celebrated their weddings on February 14 at the Empire State Building’s outdoor 86th floor Observatory, high above Manhattan, after being selected as winners of the skyscraper’s 25th Annual Valentine’s Day Wedding Contest.

While the feelings were warm, the temperature was only in the 30s during the early morning ceremonies, with a 20-mile-per-hour wind chill factor, following a snow and sleet storm that covered the city.

The two couples continued a tradition celebrated by hundreds of couples over the past quarter-century. The 15-minute ceremonies were celebrated as follows:

  • 7 a.m. – Fabiana Faria and Helena Barquet: Fabiana and Helena—co-owners of the home design store Coming Soon on the Lower East Side of Manhattan—exemplify a true New York City love story. Fabiana proposed to Helena at the Plaza Hotel after falling in love almost seven years ago. With a shared fascination in the Empire State Building and the meanings behind its nightly tower lights, Fabiana and Helena were excited to celebrate their wedding in such a fabled setting.
  • 7:30 a.m. – Chitra Pathak and Nachiket Patel: Originally from India, Nachiket and Chitra met ten years ago after an introduction was made through Chitra’s brother. Following a five-year relationship, which included almost two years of long-distance dating, they are now happily living in Jersey City, New Jersey. The Empire State Building is Nachiket’s favorite building; and, while the couple still plans to host a big traditional wedding in India, he submitted his entry to the contest in the hopes of surprising Chitra with a wedding in their adopted home.

To celebrate this significant milestone event, and for the first time, this year’s Valentine’s Day Wedding Contest was open to the building’s international fan base via https://esbvalentinesday.com/.

“With over 1,000 entries from both near and far, it’s evident that the storied history and romance surrounding the Empire State Building continue to touch lives around the globe,” said Jean-Yves Ghazi, Senior Vice President of the Observatory. “I’m excited to officiate at the weddings for Helena and Fabiana, as well as Chitra and Nachiket, and continue this tradition for its 25th year.”

Each bride was gifted a dress of her choice from Kleinfeld Bridal’s famous flagship location in New York City. Additionally, a winning couple may receive prize packages from Grand Hyatt New York, State Grill and Bar, Turkish Airlines; and Boca Raton Resort & Club, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, courtesy of Discover The Palm Beaches.

Research contact: @TheEmpireState

Under new U.S. tax code, average family’s refund is down by 8.4%

February 14, 2019

The first tax season under President Donald Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is under way—and early filers are saying “Where’s my refund?” according to an NBC News report.

While the White House promised in October 2017, while it was pushing for passage of the law, that the average family “would get a $4,000 raise,” now some taxpayers are discovering that the tax man giveth—but also taketh away. And that’s especially true as it pertains to their annual refund, the network news outlet says.

The average refund this year is down by 8.4%, to $1,865, for the week ending February 1, according to data from the Internal Revenue Service. At that time, the IRS said, the agency already had processed about 16  million returns—down from the 18 million it had received and processed at the same time last year.  That’s down 12.4% from the first week of last year’s tax season.

In a news release on February 8, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said “filing season has successfully launched with millions of tax returns having been filed.”

Early filers vented their frustrations on Twitter, using the hashtag #GOPTaxScam.

“Last year I was able to get $2700 on tax returns but all my deductions are gone this year and was a net-$350. Only saving grace was increased child tax credit which kept my refund in the positive,” wrote @dexternights.

Indeed, the plan, which Trump said would simplify the tax code, also got rid of many deductions that working class Americans relied on to lower their tax bills—among them, home equity loan interest, moving expenses;and certain job costs, including licensing and regulatory fees.

Research contact: @AlyssaNewcomb 

Warner counters Burr: Committee cannot rule on collusion until investigation wraps up

February 14, 2019

Senator Mark Warner of Virginia—who serves as the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee—broke ranks on February 12 with committee Chair Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina. Warner contested his Republican colleague’s assessment that the panel had found no evidence of collusion to date during its inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Respectfully, I disagree,” Warner said, according to CNN. “I’m not going to get into any conclusions I’ve reached because my basis of this has been that I’m not going to reach any conclusion until we finish the investigation. And we still have a number of the key witnesses to come back.”

His statement came just hours before President Donald Trump’s former “fixer” and personal lawyer Michael Cohen told the committee that he would defer his testimony “due to post-surgery medical needs.”

Cohen had been subpoenaed by the committee on January 24 as a key source of information on the campaign’s contacts with Russia—one of the few individuals with a behind-the-doors perspective on Trump’s campaign machinations—but he has backed out three times. At least one of those times, Cohen claimed he was reluctant to talk  because of “ongoing threats against his family from President Trump and Mr. [Rudolph] Giuliani.”

On Tuesday night, CNN reported, Burr told reported on Capitol Hill, “I can assure you that any goodwill that might have existed in the committee with Michael Cohen is now gone.”

Burr reiterated that his committee had “no factual evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia,” but that he wanted to interview Cohen before the former lawyer for President Donald Trump reports to federal prison next month.

“I would prefer to get him before he goes to prison, but you know, the way he’s positioning himself, not coming (to) the committee, we may help him go to prison,” Burr said.

However, Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis said the surgery excuse was accurate. “Mr. Cohen was expected to and continues to suffer from severe post shoulder surgery pain, as confirmed by a letter from his surgeon, which was sent to Senator Burr and Senator [Mark] Warner,” Davis said. “The medication Mr. Cohen is currently taking made it impossible for him to testify this week.”

The split in public comments between Burr and Warner marked a rare instance of a partisan divide between the two committee leaders.

Another panel member, Senator Angus King (I-Maine), backed Warner up, telling The Hill that the Intelligence Committee “has not concluded anything.”

“Several of the individual members have made statements, but I certainly am not prepared to make a statement as to what was found or not found,” he said.

Warner told CNN that lawmakers are still hoping to speak with a few witnesses, including Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen. The longtime Trump associate was scheduled to testify Tuesday, but postponed his appearance, citing medical reasons after a recent shoulder surgery.

Trump has repeatedly maintained that his campaign did not collude with Russia and he has welcomed Burr’s  comments as proof of that fact.

Research contact: @jeremyherb

He loves me, he loves me not: Why on-off relationships might be toxic

February 13, 2019

It’s an innocent children’s game that serves as a precursor to the pleasure-pain cycle of some adult relationships. Picking the petals off a daisy, a little girl chants, “He loves me; he loves me not, ”until the final petal falls to the ground and the answer is clear.

On-off relationships create drama. A couple breaks up with grief and anger; and then reattaches with renewed sexual magnetism, feelings of love, and happiness. We’ve seen the process on small- screen sitcoms: Sam and Diane on “Cheers.” Ross and Rachel on “Friends.” Carrie and Mr. Big on “Sex and the City.”

While their relationship storylines kept viewers enthralled, Kale Monk, assistant professor of Human Development and Family Science,at the University of Missouri says that a persistent pattern of breaking up and getting back together can impact an individual’s mental health—and not for the better. He suggests people in these kinds of relationships should make informed decisions about stabilizing or safely terminating their relationships.

Prior research has estimated that more than 60% of adults have been involved in on-off relationships, and more than 33% of cohabitating couples reported breaking up and later reconciling at some point. Compared to relationships without this pattern, on-off relationships are associated with higher rates of abuse, poorer communication and lower levels of commitment.

“Breaking up and getting back together is not always a bad omen for a couple,” says Monk. “In fact, for some couples, breaking up can help partners realize the importance of their relationship, contributing to a healthier, more committed unions. On the other hand, partners who are routinely breaking up and getting back together could be negatively impacted by the pattern.”

Monk and co-authors Brian Ogolsky and Ramona Oswald from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, examined data from more than 500 individuals who said they were currently in relationships. They found that an increase in breaking up and reuniting was associated with more psychological distress symptoms such as depression and anxiety. They did not find meaningful differences between same-sex and heterosexual relationships in this pattern.

Partners break up and reunite for a number of reasons, including necessity or practicality. For example, a person might stay in a relationship for financial reasons or partners might stay together because they feel they have invested too much time into the relationship to leave. However, Monk advises that former partners should get back together based on dedication, not obligation.

“The findings suggest that people who find themselves regularly breaking up and getting back together with their partners need to ‘look under the hood’ of their relationships to determine what’s going on,” Monk said. “If partners are honest about the pattern, they can take the necessary steps to maintain their relationships or safely end them. This is vital for preserving their well-being.”

Monk offers the following tips for couples who might want to evaluate their relationships:

  • When considering rekindling a relationship that ended or avoiding future breakups, partners should think about the reasons they broke up to determine if there are consistent or persistent issues impacting the relationship.
  • Having explicit conversations about issues that have led to break ups can be helpful, especially if the issues will likely reoccur. If there was ever violence in the relationship, however, or if having a conversation about relationship issues can lead to safety concerns, consider seeking support-services when it is safe to do so.
  • Similar to thinking about the reasons the relationship ended, spend time thinking about the reasons why reconciliation might be an option. Is the reason rooted in commitment and positive feelings, or more about obligations and convenience? The latter reasons are more likely to lead down a path of continual distress.
  • Remember that it is okay to end a toxic relationship. For example, if your relationship is beyond repair, do not feel guilty leaving for your mental or physical well-being.
  • Couples therapy or relationship counseling is not just for partners on the brink of divorce. Even happy dating and married couples can benefit from ‘relationship check-ups’ in order to strengthen the connection between partners and have additional support in approaching relationship transitions.

“Coming out and getting back in: relationship cycling and distress in same-and-different-sex relationships,” recently was published in Family Relations, the interdisciplinary journal of applied family science.

Research contact: monkj@missouri.edu

As McDonald’s loses EU trademark, Burger King slyly advertises, ‘Like a Big Mac, but actually big.’

February 13, 2019

After McDonald’s lost its trademark for the Big Mac in the European Union on January 15, Burger King in Sweden revamped its menu in a snarky hat tip to the rival fast-food chain. Imitation, it turns out, is also the sincerest form of trolling, The Washington Post reported on February 11.

The trademark was ceded to Irish entrepreneur Pat McDonagh, whose fast-food chain, Supermac’s, won the landmark legal battle against McDonald’s. The Galway-based firm persuaded the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) to cancel McDonald’s’ use of the “Big Mac” trademark, opening the way for Supermac to expand across Britain and continental Europe.

It also left the way clear for Burger King—maker of the grilled Whopper—to have some fun with its global competitor.

In early February, the Post reports, Swedish outposts of Burger King featured menus with names grounded in Big Mac comparisons, including: “The Kind of Like a Big Mac, but Juicier and Tastier” and “The Big Mac-ish but Flame-Grilled Of Course.

Other options were even more derogatory, the DC-based news outlet said—among them: “The Burger Big Mac Wished It Was” and “The Anything But a Big Mac.”

“It’s too much fun for us to stay away,” said Iwo Zakowski, CEO of Burger King’s Swedish operation, according to report by The Guardian.

Burger King’s marketing campaign was created by Stockholm-based ad agency INGO. The agency released a video of customers awkwardly navigating the newly renamed menu to announce the campaign.

And as for Supermac’s, “We’re delighted,” McDonagh told The Guardian, adding, “It’s a unique victory when you take on the Golden Arches and win.”

In a statement provided to The Washington Post, McDonald’s said it plans to appeal the EUIPO decision.

“We are disappointed in the EUIPO’s decision and believe this decision did not take into account the substantial evidence submitted by McDonald’s proving use of our BIG MAC mark throughout Europe. We intend to appeal the decision and are confident it will be overturned by the EUIPO Board of Appeals,” the statement said. “Notwithstanding today’s decision, McDonald’s owns full and enforceable trademark rights for the mark ‘BIG MAC’ throughout Europe.”

Research contact: taylor.telford@washpost.com

BBC cameraman assaulted by Trump zealot at El Paso rally

February 13, 2019

As President Donald Trump whipped his base into a lather on Monday night, February 11, at an El Paso, Texas, rally—demanding a wall at the southern border and demeaning the “Fake Media”— the violence that had been simmering for so long among his supporters ratcheted up.

Sporting a red Make America Great Again cap, a man leaped out of the audience, shoving and swearing at BBC cameraman Ron Skeans—whose camera feed splintered and revolved during the short altercation—and tried to strike at other news crews before being wrestled away by a blogger in the crowd.

Skeans told his BBC colleagues that he was blindsided by a “very hard shove” during the rally, adding that he “didn’t know what was going on.”

A spokesperson for BBC told The Guardian in a statement that the cameraman was “violently pushed and shoved by a member of the crowd” while covering the event.

Meanwhile, BBC News Editor Eleanor Montague tweeted, “Just attended my first @realDonaldTrump rally where my colleague BBC cameraman Rob Skeans was attacked by a Trump supporter. The crowd had been whipped up into a frenzy against the media by Trump and other speakers all night #TrumpElPaso

By the next morning, BBC Americas Bureau Chief Paul Danahar tweeted: “I’ve written to @PressSec asking for a full review of security arrangements for the media after last night’s attack on our BBC cameraman at the President’s rally. Access into the media area was unsupervised. No one in law enforcement intervened before, during or after the attack.”

He was disappointed by the response from the White House, which read, “An individual involved in a physical altercation with a news cameraman was removed from last night’s rally. We appreciated the swift action from venue security and law enforcement officers.”—Michael Glassner, Chief Operating Officer, Trump for President Inc.”

I’m afraid this statement from the Trump campaign does nothing to address the security lapses at President Trump’s rally in El Paso last night when our BBC colleague was attacked,” Danahar commented on behalf of the news organization, adding, “There was not swift action to prevent or interrupt the attack by any security agency.

The BBC stated that the incident occurred after Trump “heavily criticized” the press.

At the event, President Trump checked that the media involved were well, responding with a thumbs up, and continuing his speech after the attacker was taken out of the stadium.

The White House had no further comment.

Other reporters had predicted that violence would erupt at a Trump rally, including CNN’s Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta, who tweeted in July, “I’m very worried that the hostility whipped up by Trump and some in conservative media will result in somebody getting hurt. We should not treat our fellow Americans this way. The press is not the enemy.”

According to a report by The New York Times, In August, experts from the United Nations and a human rights body condemned the president’s attacks on the news media and warned that they could incite violence against journalists.

“His attacks are strategic, designed to undermine confidence in reporting and raise doubts about verifiable facts,” David Kaye, the United Nations special rapporteur on freedom of expression, and Edison Lanza, who holds the same position at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, said in a statement.

“We are especially concerned that these attacks increase the risk of journalists being targeted with violence,” they said.

Research contact: @pdanahar

Knowing just one gay person shifts attitudes

February 12, 2019

It’s not what you know, but who you know that gets you in the door, or that moves a social effort forward. Most of us are familiar with this “old saw”—and now,  Daniel DellaPosta of Penn State University has proven it true again.

DellaPosta—an assistant professor of Sociology at Penn and an affiliate of the university’s Institute for CyberScience—has found that people who meet and become acquainted with at least one gay person are more likely to later change their minds about same-sex marriage; and become more accepting of gay and lesbian people in general,

 Indeed, friendship bonds that may seem superficial at first glance could be just deep enough to produce attitude changes that help spark social transformations.

According to DellaPosta, sociologists have long proposed that when people establish certain relationships, they may change their attitudes about issues, often referred to as the contact effect. However, prior to this study, the theory had yet to be rigorously tested.

“What I thought we needed in this area was a test of the contact hypothesis that was conservative — perhaps overly conservative—using the most stringent test we could possibly devise,” said DellaPosta.

DellaPosta examined data from the 2006, 2008, and 2010 editions of General Social Survey (GSS), a sociological survey of opinions that Americans hold on a range of issues.

In 2006, about 45% of the people who had a gay or lesbian acquaintance expressed support for same-sex marriage. By 2010, that figure had increased to 61%. In 2006, only 22% of people who did not have a gay or lesbian acquaintance said they approved of same-sex marriage. That number fell to 18% in 2010.

DellaPosta said that the survey data does not reveal exactly when these relationships were established, which makes the test more rigorous.

“By taking people in that 2006 baseline who were acquainted with gay and lesbian people and comparing them with other people who were similar in all visible regards, including their measured attitude toward same-sex marriage and gay and lesbian people at that 2006 baseline, who were not acquainted with gay and lesbian people, you can get a really conservative test of the contact hypothesis,” said DellaPosta, who reported his findings in a recent issue of the journal Socius.

The findings could shed light on how “coming out” among gay and lesbian people impacts the general acceptance of gay and lesbian people. In the 1973 GSS, just 11% of Americans believed that “homosexuality is not wrong at all.” By 2016, that number had grown to 52%.

DellaPosta suggests that coming out may facilitate more contact with gay and lesbian people, which then accelerates an attitude change about issues that affect the gay community.

Further, DellaPosta suggested that the contact with a gay person does not even need to be especially deep for the contact effect to appear.

“If you have very superficial contact, like just seeing someone from an out group in the grocery store or on the subway, you may focus more on selective behaviors that reinforce your prejudices—like someone dressing, talking or acting in a way that reinforces some negative stereotype of that group,” said DellaPosta.

“But, if you take the next level to mere acquaintanceship—someone whose name you know, someone who, if you saw them on the street, you might stop and chat with them for a moment—the contact effect sets in because when you suddenly have to interact with someone from an out group as an individual, it forces you to reconsider your biases.”

According to DellaPosta, having a closer, deeper bond with a gay or lesbian acquaintance did not result in an even larger shift of attitude toward same-sex marriage. He added that the contact effect actually is larger for people who have a low probability of having a gay or lesbian acquaintance.

Research contact: djd78@psu.edu