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Impact of Language Choices on the Humanization of Stigmatized Groups
Keywords: language, verbal communication, stigmatization, disability, political correctness
Abstract: Many academic journals, government agencies, and policy organizations across English-speaking countries advocate for person-first (e.g., person with autism) instead of identity-first (e.g., autistic person) labels. While people believe these language choices change perceptions, to the best of our knowledge, there is no empirical consensus on how perceptions of stigmatized groups are actually changed based on these different terminologies. Therefore, in this project we aim to explore how language choices impact the humanization of stigmatized groups. In two studies, we show that both person-first and identity-first language may lead to increased humanization depending on the stigmatized condition. Our findings may help guide policy and academic recommendations for informed support of both person- and identity-first language.