Political correctness (p.c.) norms are highly controversial and have been subject to political and philosophical debate for decades. Yet, surprisingly little research has been conducted to understand if they have any impact at all and, in particular, if and how they affect the perception of social groups. We will argue here that p.c. language has real and concrete consequences for social cognition and, more generally, for human interaction, providing evidence from 2 studies. Study 1 (conducted in Italian and German) shows that labeling psychiatric patients by adjectives rather than nouns (“X is schizophrenic” vs. “X is a schizophrenic”) changes the diagnosis and leads to a more optimistic prognosis in the eyes of advanced clinical psychology students. The size of this difference depends on the degree to which the p.c. form (adjective) differs phonetically from its linguistic alternative (noun). In Study 2 (conducted in Italy) we compare traditional role labels with recent labels that were introduced following p.c. rules. Labels refer to pairs of professional roles of different status within the same organization (e.g., janitor vs. school director as traditional labels and school collaborator vs. head of school as p.c. labels). Results show that when p.c. labels are used, the perceived distance in terms of professional collocation within the organization (organization chart), interpersonal relation, social status, likely salary etc. is greatly reduced. Together, our findings suggest that politically correct labeling has tangible consequences for social-cognitive processes (including social perception and inferences).

Does political correctness make (social) sense?

SUITNER, CATERINA;MAASS, ANNE;MERKEL, ELISA FRANZISKA
2012

Abstract

Political correctness (p.c.) norms are highly controversial and have been subject to political and philosophical debate for decades. Yet, surprisingly little research has been conducted to understand if they have any impact at all and, in particular, if and how they affect the perception of social groups. We will argue here that p.c. language has real and concrete consequences for social cognition and, more generally, for human interaction, providing evidence from 2 studies. Study 1 (conducted in Italian and German) shows that labeling psychiatric patients by adjectives rather than nouns (“X is schizophrenic” vs. “X is a schizophrenic”) changes the diagnosis and leads to a more optimistic prognosis in the eyes of advanced clinical psychology students. The size of this difference depends on the degree to which the p.c. form (adjective) differs phonetically from its linguistic alternative (noun). In Study 2 (conducted in Italy) we compare traditional role labels with recent labels that were introduced following p.c. rules. Labels refer to pairs of professional roles of different status within the same organization (e.g., janitor vs. school director as traditional labels and school collaborator vs. head of school as p.c. labels). Results show that when p.c. labels are used, the perceived distance in terms of professional collocation within the organization (organization chart), interpersonal relation, social status, likely salary etc. is greatly reduced. Together, our findings suggest that politically correct labeling has tangible consequences for social-cognitive processes (including social perception and inferences).
EASP Small Group Meeting on Social Cognition and Communication
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11577/3033133
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