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Biases in news media as reflected by personal pronouns in evaluative contexts
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
2014 (English)In: Social Psychology, ISSN 1864-9335, E-ISSN 2151-2590, Vol. 45, no 2, 103-111 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper examines whether pronouns in news media occurred in evaluative contexts reflecting psychological biases. Contexts of pronouns were measured by computerized semantic analysis. Results showed that self-inclusive personal pronouns (WeI) occurred in more positive contexts than self-exclusive pronouns (He/SheThey), reflecting self- and group-serving biases. Contexts of collective versus individual pronouns varied; Weoccurred in more positive contexts than I, and He/She in more positive contexts than They. The enhancement of collective relative to individual self-inclusive pronouns may reflect that media news is a public rather than private domain. The reversed pattern among self-exclusive pronouns corroborates suggestions that outgroup derogation is most pronounced at the category level. Implications for research on language and social psychology are discussed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 45, no 2, 103-111 p.
Keyword [en]
pronouns in social categorization, language bias, intergroup bias, self-serving bias, latent semantic analysis, implicit attitudes
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-96788DOI: 10.1027/1864-9335/a000165ISI: 000333428500005OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-96788DiVA: diva2:667515
Available from: 2013-11-26 Created: 2013-11-26 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Personal Pronouns in Evaluative Communication
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Personal Pronouns in Evaluative Communication
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Personal pronouns represent important social categories; they are among the most common words in communication and are therefore highly interesting in studying psychological perspectives and relations. The aim of this thesis was to investigate whether pronouns are used in semantic contexts in a way that reflect psychological biases. Specifically, I have tested whether self-, group-serving- and gender biases occur when pronouns are used in natural language. To study this, I developed a structure for pronouns in social categorization where the pronouns are categorized in a self-inclusive/exclusive, an individual/collective, and a gender dimension. New methods for examining pronouns usage in language were developed in the thesis, for use in experiments and in computerized studies of large data corpora of media news. The results of this thesis showed that self-inclusive pronouns (I, We) consistently were used in more positive contexts than self-exclusive pronouns (He, She, They) by participants who generated messages in the lab (Study I), and by journalists in written media news (Study II). Study I revealed that the evaluative context surrounding I and We varied according to the specific communicative situation. When individuals generated messages individually, more positive contexts were selected for I than We. However in a collaborative setting, We occurred in contexts of similar valence as I. An intergroup setting magnified the differences between self-inclusive and self-exclusive pronouns (e.g., between We and They and between I and He/She). In an analysis of 400 000 news media messages, We occurred in more positive context than I (Study II). In Study III, the contexts of He and She in these media news were examined. The results showed that He occurred nine times more often, and in more positive contexts than She. Moreover, words associated with She included more labels denoting gender, and were more uniform than words associated with He. In sum, this thesis shows that studying the use of pronouns is a fruitful way to investigate social psychology phenomena. The thesis contributes to the understanding of how pronoun use convey knowledge about social cognition, attitudes, gender stereotypes, as well as interpersonal and intergroup relations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Psychology, Stockholm University, 2013. 76 p.
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-97479 (URN)978-91-7447-826-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-01-24, David Magnussonsalen (U31), Frescati Hagväg 8, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3: Manuscript.

 

Available from: 2014-01-02 Created: 2013-12-11 Last updated: 2014-01-27Bibliographically approved

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