AFT’s “Guys & Does” Referenced in Psychological Study

Lee Becker and Doc Heide in Guys & Does

A new study indicates that musical theater may be a promising method for promoting attitudinal change. The study looked at people’s beliefs about deer hunting before and after they saw American Folklore Theatre’s (AFT) musical comedy Guys & Does.

“We often think of musicals as lightweight,” said Frederick Heide, co-author of the study published in the APA journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and Arts. “But they may also be a promising method for attitude change.”

The study revealed that audience members became more open to hunting after seeing the show. They were less likely to think of hunting as cruel and more likely to believe it had cultural values worth preserving. In addition, attitude change was associated with the strength of peoples’ emotional reactions to the show.

Guys & Does was written by Heide, Lee Becker, and Paul Libman, a two-time winner of the Richard Rodgers Award for Best American Musical. Heide conducted the research with Natalie Porter and Paul Saito at Alliant International University in San Francisco.

AFT is a non-profit professional theatre organization that produces original musical shows in repertory from June through August. AFT’s performances continue in the fall, from September through October, with shows at the Door Community Auditorium and town halls and also over the Christmas holiday.

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