The Opioid Crisis

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Sobotka, Tagart Cain, and Sheridan A. Stewart [Equal Authorship]. 2020. “Stereotyping and the Opioid Epidemic: A Conjoint Analysis.” Social Science & Medicine 255:113018. [Paper]

Abstract: Political attention and media coverage concerning rising rates of opioid addiction and opioid-involved deaths in the United States have been critiqued for focusing almost exclusively on trends among whites. It remains unclear, however, if this “white-washing” of the opioid crisis has coincided with a shift in Americans' stereotypes about who abuses opioids. Understanding these stereotypes is important because they can create or uphold larger structural barriers by impacting the ability of certain groups to access appropriate treatment, influencing public support for various policies, and shaping interactions with law enforcement officials. Utilizing a conjoint survey experiment (n = 3670), we examined the independent effects of a person's race, occupation, gender, age, and region on the probability they would be seen as more likely than another individual to abuse opioids. We found that the probability of being identified as likely to abuse opioids is highest when a profile describes an individual as white or unemployed. This study offers the first systematic, experimental analysis of the independent contributions of various traits to the perception that someone is likely to abuse opioids.

Works In Progress

  • Dissertation: Bad Doctors, Enablers, and the Powerless: The Opioid Crisis and the Construction of Blame.

  • "The Enabling-Helping Dilemma: Redefining behaviors and roles in the context of opioid abuse.”

  • “The Enabling Mother: Enabling, Helping, and Gender Bias in the Opioid Epidemic.”

  • “Primed for Punishment? Policy preferences and shifting racial perceptions of the U.S. opioid epidemic” [w/ Aliya Saperstein]

Masculinity and the Stalled Gender Revolution

Peer-Review Publications

Sobotka, Tagart Cain. 2020. “Not Your Average Joe: Pluralistic Ignorance, Status, and Modern Sexism.” Men and Masculinities 1097184X20901578. [Paper] [Media Coverage: Mel Magazine]

Abstract: A growing body of research has highlighted that men’s gender-related behaviors and choices are strongly influenced by the gendered beliefs they believe other men hold. However, limited research has sought to identify how men come to form opinions about what other men believe. Drawing from research on pluralistic ignorance, status, and masculinity, this study examines the role that high and low status men’s sexist behaviors have on the discrepancy between men’s own sexist beliefs and those they believe are held by most other men. Results from a series of online experiments show that men believe that “most men” are more sexist than themselves. Moreover, while the sexist acts of a low status man decrease men’s personal endorsement of sexist beliefs, the same acts by a high status man increased men’s personal endorsement of sexist beliefs. While personal beliefs were malleable, neither high nor low status men’s behaviors affected men’s perception of how sexist other men are. Together, these findings provide insight into the ways in which pluralistic ignorance and the sexist actions of high status men may contribute to systems of gender inequality.

Carian, Emily K., and Tagart Cain Sobotka [Equal Authorship]. 2018. “Playing the Trump Card: Masculinity Threat and the U.S. 2016 Presidential Election.” Socius 4:1–6. [Paper]

Abstract: Using an experimental study fielded before the U.S. 2016 presidential election, we test one potential mechanism to explain the outcome of the election: threatened gender identity. Building on masculine overcompensation literature, we test whether threat to masculinity can explain differential support for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton among men, and adjudicate between two mediators: desire for a male president and desire for a masculine president. As predicted, we find that masculinity threat increases desire for a masculine president (but not desire for a male president), which in turn increases support for Trump and decreases support for Clinton among men. This study empirically documents the role masculinity threat may have played in the 2016 presidential election and politics more generally. This study also contributes to theory by providing evidence that masculine overcompensation works symbolically to reassert the status of masculinity over femininity rather than to simply emphasize maleness over femaleness.

Other Publications

Sobotka, Tagart Cain. 2017. Book Review: Manhood on the Line: Working-Class Masculinities in the American Heartland.” Men and Masculinities 20(5):633–34. [Paper]

Works in Progress

  • “The Paradoxical Relationship between Status and Stigma.” [w/ Chloe Hart and Kristine Kilanski]

  • “Anticipatory Masculine Overcompensation.” [w/ Emily Carian]