Aggression and Political Correctness: A Socio-Behavioral Analysis

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The language of political correctness appears to shift the responsibility for sensitivity to the speaker, but only the receiver can judge appropriateness. My research demonstrates that most people have very definite, if not always conscious, opinions on what is correct or incorrect – yet few people agree. This lends itself to political, social, and religious discussions regarding recognition and sensitivity; in an attempt to mitigate friction, society tends to place the burden of sensitivity on the speaker. However, more recent, preliminary studies also indicate that people tend to not be self-aware of the depth or strength of their reactions to what they consider “politically incorrect” or inappropriate language usage. Even individuals who claim to “not care” evidence varying levels of aggressive reaction when witnessing or experiencing language and situations that they deem to be threatening on some level – even when the speaker’s intentions and conscious actions are to mitigate negativity. In some cases, receivers’ negative reactions increase specifically as a result of the receiver’s conscious or subconscious perception that the speaker is actively striving for political correctness, thus lack genuineness. Early studies indicate that receivers often underestimate their own level of aggression when confronted with politically incorrect language.


Keywords: Political Correctness, Language and Linguistics, Aggression, Self-Awareness
Stream: Identity and Belonging; the Politics of Diversity; Globalisation
Presentation Type: 30 minute Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Kim Abramson

Doctoral Student
Hawaii, USA

Ms. Abramson is a doctoral student in Psychology. Her research interests include cognition, sociolinguistics, computational linguistics, intercultural communication, international and comparative law, applied linguistics, education, and a wide range of technologies.

Ref: D08P0328