Sonja Vogt (University of Oxford)
"The seduction of applied conformity with female genital cutting as an example"
Female genital cutting puts millions at risk of serious health problems throughout life. It is an ancient practice based on deeply embedded cultural attitudes that are difficult to change. In many countries, female genital cutting continues to be widespread even though governments and development agencies have been promoting its abandonment for decades. An estimated 3,000,000 girls continue to be at risk of cutting each year. We developed a new approach to changing attitudes about female genital cutting in a population in Sudan where cutting is widespread. To do so, we produced a number of different movies that show an open discussion about whether to continue or abandon the practice. This approach respects the cultural traditions of practicing societies. To enable causal inferences about changes in attitudes, we randomly assigned participants to the different movies and then measured their attitudes. In my presentation, I will document the impact of the various treatment movies on attitudes towards cutting based on an implicit attitude test that we developed to circumvent social desirability bias.