A Brief & Overdue Update!

Lab Note #2
Dec 02, 2015

It has been two years since you helped to successfully fund my research on the physiological responses to same-sex Public Displays of Affection. I am writing to you today to give you an update on the impact of your donation.

More than 140 participants visited the research lab at the University of Utah where a dedicated group of Research Assistants ran each participant through what usually turned out to be a 2-3 hour visit! Each participant was paid $20 for his time and an additional $10 if he completed a follow-up survey online a few weeks later. Participants were also entered into a variety of prize draws.

More than 1800 saliva samples were taken from those participants and in September we shipped those samples to Germany for analysis! The samples were analyzed for levels of Cortisol and Alpha Amylase and this data will be combined with the physiological data that we collected during the visits, the participants’ survey responses, and their IAT responses. This coming winter, the facial expressions of the participants that were recorded using the computer's webcam will be analyzed using software that reads emotional expression.

There is still a long road of data cleaning and data analysis ahead, but the study has already produced some interesting findings! I have given 3 conference presentations on the topic and will be giving another talk on the study next Monday. I am also working on a publication that discusses the links between narcissism, an individual's tendency to "personalize" their prejudice and reported violent behaviour towards sexual minority men.

The crowdfunding campaign resulted in $8500 of funding. After running the study for a few months, we noticed that we were recruiting (without attempting to) a number of men who identified as heterosexual, but who also identified as something other than "exclusively heterosexual" on the Kinsey scale. The American Institute of Bisexuality (AIB) generously provided additional funding ($12,500) so that we could include these men in the study. This is but one example of how your generous donation multiplied itself! Without the funding to start the study, I would not have stumbled upon this interesting group of participants, and would therefore not have secured additional funding from the AIB!

Your donations also allowed me to successfully complete my Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the University of Utah. More than 15 undergraduate and recently graduated students gained valuable research experience by working on various parts of the project, either directly running participants, recruiting participants or helping to clean and analyze the data. The data set from this study is large and covers a wide variety of topics that will continue to provide new and interesting research questions for my future students to investigate! Finally, this past June, I was offered (and I accepted) a tenure-track position in the Psychology Department at St. Francis Xavier University back home in Canada. The position began in November and I was able to use the preliminary results of this study to secure an internal research grant to continue the research project here at St.FX!

As you can see, your donation, whether it was $1 or $500, has snowballed into additional research funding, important educational experiences for students (past and future), and has played an instrumental role in my ability to move on to the next stage of my research and teaching career! I cannot express my gratitude enough!

Your support of this study has completely changed my experience as a researcher. I love all of the studies that I conduct and I am always keen to see them through to the finish line, but the motivation that I have had for this study has been unmatched. Many of you have written to me to tell me exactly why you funded this particular study and this personal connection to my funders has provided a whole new level of motivation for seeing this project through. I gained far more than research funding by crowdfunding this study. I have gained friends, new colleagues, and a renewed level of inspiration to continue my work in this area. I will never forget your generosity. Thank you!

I will continue to post major updates about this study here, but you can always find information about my research on my website.


Dr. Karen L. Blair

A photo of myself (red shirt) and some of my Research Assistants from the study at a "goodbye" party in Utah before moving back to Canada.

Our saliva sample labelling party! Each of the 1800+ saliva samples had to be labelled and recorded within a 12 hour window in order to get them shipped out in time and keep them frozen! A group of video game design students came to the rescue and helped us get the job done on time - despite the fact that none of them had anything to do with the study! (They helped in shifts and only a handful of them are shown in this picture!) MANY aspects of this study were crowd sourced!

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