Biased terminology effects and biased information processing in research on adult-nonadult sexual interactions

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Adult-child and adult-adolescent sexual interactions have generally been described in the professional literature with value-laden negative terms. Recently, a number of researchers have criticized this state of affairs, claiming that such usage is likely to have biasing effects. The current investigation examined empirically the biasing impact of negative terminology. Eighty undergraduate students read a shortened journal article that used either neutral or negative terms to describe a number of cases of sexual relationships between male adolescents and male adults--the shortened article was adapted from Tindall (1978). Additionally, students were exposed either to descriptive information or descriptive plus long-term nonnegative outcome information. The purpose of this manipulation was to examine whether students would process the neutral and positive data in a biased fashion, because these data contradict strongly held assumptions of harm as a consequence of these contacts. Students' judgments were negatively biased by the negative terminology. The students also exhibited evidence for biased processing of the nonnegative outcome information.

source: Abstract from article 'Biased Terminology Effects and Biased Information Processing in Research on Adult-Nonadult Sexual Interactions: An Empirical Investigation' by Bruce Rind & Robert Bauserman; www.jstor.org/stable/3812725?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents; The Journal of Sex Research, Vol. 30, No. 3, pp. 260-269; August 1993