Join us as we explore current research in this area with Dr Léïla Eisner of Universität Zürich
Have you ever wondered why some historically disadvantaged groups in society are increasingly tolerated but never reach the tipping point of full institutional and social equality? People’s perceptions of social reality might be part of the answer. This research investigates how perceptions of the social reality and particularly perceived societal norms (i.e., perception of most people’s opinions in society) serve as a vector of communication between individuals, groups, and societies in the social change process. This presentation will feature three sets of studies in the sexual minority context. The first study investigates how the general population perceives others’ opinions toward sexual minorities and when these perceptions might be inaccurate (Study 1, representative sample, N = 892). The second set of studies examines how these (mis-)perceptions can affect sexual minority members and, particularly, their collective actions toward achieving greater equality (Studies 2-4, sexual minority samples, N = 378–1220). Finally, the last study assesses how the outcome of ‘successful’ collective actions – institutional and political changes (i.e., a new law on stepchild adoption for same-sex couples) – can, in turn, impact individuals’ perceptions of the societal norm (Study 5, university sample, N =437). Together these findings shed light on the processes that can lead to social change.