Mcclelland, S., Dutcher, H., & Crawford, B. L. (2020). In the Fabric of Research: Racial and Gender Stereotypes in Survey Items Assessing Attitudes about Abortion.
Mcclelland, S., Harley Dutcher, and Brandon L. Crawford. “In the Fabric of Research: Racial and Gender Stereotypes in Survey Items Assessing Attitudes about Abortion” (2020).
Mcclelland, S., et al. In the Fabric of Research: Racial and Gender Stereotypes in Survey Items Assessing Attitudes about Abortion. 2020.
We investigated the content of survey items to assess whether and how racist and sexist stereotypes are woven into the fabric of research on attitudes about abortion in the United States. We collected and analyzed a comprehensive set of survey items (456 items from 80 studies) used in peer-reviewed research published from 2008 to 2018 in representative and nonrepresentative studies of U.S. respondents. Our analysis was guided by historical narratives that have been influential in shaping representations of women and reproduction in the United States (e.g., the Moynihan Report). With this background, we developed three themes pertaining to how individuals’ attitudes about abortion are measured: we found that items rely on (1) moral, (2) sexual, and (3) financial evaluations of women seeking abortion care. These themes highlighted implicit and explicit judgments of women, including representations of them as unwilling to partner with men and as fiscally and sexually irresponsible. We argue that survey items meant to objectively assess abortion attitudes draw on negative racial and gender stereotypes and that these stereotypes then travel widely under the veneer of scientific objectivity. Critical methods, such as the item bank analysis described in this study, are crucial to discern how inequality, prejudice, and discrimination can be reproduced in the