Shifting abortion attitudes using an empathy-based media intervention: A randomized control study
Awarded 2017
Trainee Grants
Mary Hunt, MS
University of Arkansas

Legislation aimed at restricting access to abortion has been persistent in many states, especially the state of Arkansas, significantly impacting women’s access to abortion services. Such legislation specifically impacts low-income women and women of color. Public health intervention is needed to address the schism between constitutes and abortion legislation passed by a vocal minority. Empathy-based interventions have been used to shift attitudes and behaviors with respect to other controversial social issues. No empathy-based interventions, to the authors’ knowledge, have targeted attitudes toward abortion, particularly exploring the stigmatization of women who obtain abortions and potential differences by race and perceived pregnancy responsibility. As such, the current study aims to examine how an empathy intervention affects attitudes toward abortion and people who have abortions via a multi-phase video-based random control experiment administered in a representative sample of Arkansas residents. Furthermore, how attitudes may affect voting behaviors regarding abortion will be examined as a potential outcome. With an intersectional approach, the proposed study will design an empathy-based media intervention aimed at shifting abortion attitudes and test the efficacy of the intervention via two phases. In Phase 1, the instrument will be pilot tested with a convenience sample. In Phase 2, the intervention will be administered using a randomized control design (pre-test, video-based intervention, post-test, and second post-test 8 weeks later to check for rebound effect) to examine shifts in abortion attitudes.