Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy (PhD)

Degree Level



Public Policy


Geoboo Song

Committee Member

Donald Haider-Markel

Second Committee Member

Janine Parry

Third Committee Member

Brinck Kerr


Contact hypothesis, Contact theory, LGBT, LGBT policy, Public opinion, Social justice


The Contact Theory (CT) of attitudinal change has utilized to understand perceptions of minority-group members and the policies that surround them since the 1950s. It has further been used to specifically examine how we form our opinions of LGBT-identifying individuals, the LGBT community, and LGBT policies more generally. However, further evidence is still needed from the CT literature surrounding how this form of contact interacts with individuals’ social identities to determine and alter their LGBT policy positions, how the level of contact with LGBT persons might have differing effects on these positions, and whether LGBT contact holds the same effects across multiple LGBT policy issues. Additionally, the literature surrounding LGBT contact and policy position formation has largely been limited to studies at the U.S. national level, which necessitates the examination of state-specific contexts to understand whether the relationships between LGBT contact and LGBT policy positions are stable across geographical location. As such, the following three studies address 1) whether and in what ways contact with LGBT individuals can influence Americans’ views of major LGBT policies, 2) whether this interaction can be found within a state with a more tumultuous history with LGBT rights, and 3) what, if any, role the moral dimensions of each LGBT policy impact contact’s effect on policy position formation.