AVOIDING BIASED LANGUAGE
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AVOIDING BIASED LANGUAGEPSY 3111
Are people who use biased language evil? When we are not careful, we take mental shortcuts that allow us to describe a group of individuals quickly, but that description could be far from accurate.
Problem: How do we describe participants? 2
SOLUTIONIn psychological research:
Concise & AccurateOVERLY concise & Vague3
Those individuals with paranoid schizophrenic symptoms
view people as individuals first5
view people as individuals first
PEOPLE ARE MORE THAN LABELS LABELS: Sexual orientationRacial & ethnic identityDisabilitiesOccupationsGender
Diabetics People with diabetes
High self-esteem students Students who report high self-esteem
7-These individuals only share one characteristic (e. g., diabetics)
LABELS: Sexual orientationSexual orientation vs. sexual behaviorLesbian, gay man, bisexual man, bisexual woman (APA, 2010)
Racial & ethnic identityRace vs. ethnicityEthnicity: self-identify (e.g., American Indians, African Americans, Latinos, Chinese, etc.)Race: ?
DisabilitiesIndividuals with disabilities vs. disabled peopleAvoid emotionally charged words (e.g., crippled, handicapped, retarded, physically challenged, stroke victim, etc.)
Occupations Titles often contain gender bias e.g., fireman, chairman, policeman/policewoman, male nurse, woman doctor, etc.
8See examples in Table 6.1 of full list of occupational bias
he or she whenever possible
Drop the pronoun
Biased: The experimenter checked to see if his class points were recorded.Unbiased: The experimenter checked to see if class points were recorded.
Replace the pronoun with nouns (e.g., person, individual, researcher, participant, etc.)
Biased: We wanted to determine if his or her prior experiences influenced current attitudes.Unbiased: We wanted to determine if the participants prior experiences influenced current attitudes. Simplify the sentenceBiased: Anyone wanting to sign up for the experiment needs to use his/her student identification number.Unbiased: Student identification numbers are necessary for signing up for the experiment.