Discovered: gay parents get viewed negatively compared to their straight counterparts; people support politicians who are vague about gun control; prostitute-seeking men are not, in fact, very common; excess choices increase risky decisions.

Gay parents are judged more harshly. A key theme of the campaign to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act is the act's effect on gay parents, who under current law cannot be legally recognized by the federal government. Even if DOMA is overturned based on oral arguments being heard on Wednesday at the Supreme Court, however, gay couples may still find themselves facing other challenges, according to a group of researchers at Binghamton University, who say that same-sex parents are often judged more severely than their straight counterparts. "When parents displayed favorable parenting behaviors like comforting an upset child, gay and straight parents were judged in a similar, positive manner," on the researchers said. But, "if parents got frustrated — raised their voice or slapped their child on the hand, the gay parents were judged more negatively than the straight parents." [Journal of GLBT Family Studies]

People support politicians who are vague about gun control. As the Democratic coalition attempts to enact (slightly less wide-reaching) legislation to address gun violence, they may want to query new research about the most effective sort of messaging. Indeed, a new study performed by two psychology researchers at the University of Texas, shows that pro-gun control politicians are most effective at getting their message across when they phrase it in sweeping, "big picture" generalizations, rather than with particular incidents or facts. "To effectively influence a divided America, elected officials must take a broad perspective rather than focusing on specific incidents," the researchers found. [Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin]

Prostitute-seeking men are not, in fact, very common. "While the media is replete with examples of 'normal' men who seek out prostitutes regularly, how common are prostitute-seeking men and how much do they differ from men in the normal population?" That's the question with which two doctors at the University of Oregon began their investigation into the prominence of prostitution in the sex lives of men. In turns out that most men do not solicit sex workers: "There is no credible evidence to support the idea that hiring sex workers is a common or conventional aspect of masculine sexual behavior among men in the United States." But the men who do hire sex workers tend not to be that different from most other men: "Men who actively seek out prostitutes do not possess any 'peculiar' qualities that would differentiate them from men in the normal population." [International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology]

Excess choices increase risky decisions. Most of us are familiar with the choice paradox theory — the notion that, as the number of choices increase, our ability to choose decreases. But according to a new study carried out at the University of Warwick, increasing the number of choices also increases the risk of our choices: "When faced with a large number of choices — each having outcomes associated with different probabilities of occurring — people are more likely to overestimate the probabilities of some of the rarest events," the study found. The results are more easily understood in the language of gambling: "With large choice sets, people took riskier gambles based on a flawed perception that there was a higher probability of 'winning big' – but in reality they more often went away empty-handed." [Psychonomic Bulletin and Review]