Social Psychology Study Rationale Worksheet

(At least the beginnings of one)

  1. What was the original theory and/or hypothesis that you based your study on? The original theory that I based my study on is the language of sexism, that sexism exists in the grammar and language of English that is discussed in one article by Julia Penelope, Prescribed Passivity: The language of Sexism, and several past studies.  While this phenomenon is pervasive, what I want to uncover is more complex than just this simple explanation.  It is an interest in the oftentimes inherent intentional but sometimes-inherent unintentional propaganda within the language of sexism to control women and elevate men and boys. It is language that is used every day that most are unaware of, sometimes-even women.  So I want to study this phenomenon to determine the effects of such propaganda on women and perhaps the effects of counter propaganda in interviews and focus groups.
  2. What are the limitations of this theory or research that you hope your study will address? The limitations of this theory may include failing to achieve a large enough sample to base a study upon and participants who do not understand the positive and/or negative connotations of particular descriptive adjectives being used.  However, I believe the latter is not going to be a realistic possibility.
  3. What theoretical or empirical evidence to you have to believe that your new hypothesis or hypotheses will be supported?  Several studies have been conducted in the past analyzing the effects of suppressing women via sexism in language, including several by the above eminent Julia Penelope.   Some of those articles and studies include, Schultz, M. R. (1975).  The semantic derogation of women. In B. Thorne & N. Henley (Eds.), Language and sex:  Difference and dominance (pp. 64-73).  Rowley, MA:  Newbury House; Holmes, J., & Meyerhoff, M. (Eds.). (2008). The handbook of language and gender (Vol. 25). Wiley.com; Simpson, P. (2003). Language, ideology and point of view. Routledge; Gastil, J. (1990). Generic pronouns and sexist language: The oxymoronic character of masculine generics. Sex roles, 23(11-12), 629-643; Piercey, M. (2009). Sexism in the English language. TESL Canada Journal, 17(2); and Chew, P. K., & Kelley-Chew, L. K. (2007). Subtly sexist language. Colum. J. Gender & L., 16, 643.(From: http://extra.shu.ac.uk/daol/articles/closed/2003/001/mills2003001-paper.html)
  4. 4.     Why is your hypothesis important?  What are the larger implications?  This hypothesis is important for several reasons. Sexism still exists and a portion of half of the world population either doesn’t think it exists or they believe, to paraphrase, that feminism already liberated women in the distant past and why should anyone be bothered by it anymore?  Additionally, the language of sexism (and to the very same extent, racism) is embedded in the language so deep and so pervasively that the controlling language that suppresses women and girls is not even noticed by most people, including the generics used for one person that grammatically is assumed to be male.  This hypothesis and study hopes to bring some of this language to light and teach people to program themselves to correct their sexist language on a personal level.

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