Presentation Title

Reexamining 'They' Attitudes Research with an Aversive Prejudice Theory Lens

Presenter Name

Ellis Hernandez

Presenter Title/Affiliation

Purdue University

Start Date

21-5-2021 10:30 AM

Event Name

Panel discussion

Panel Number

2

Panel Chair Name

Robert Phillips

Zoom URL to Join

https://ciis.zoom.us/j/96623891761

Zoom Meeting ID

966 2389 1761

Abstract

Aversive prejudice theory ascribes to the idea that prejudice can be expressed indirectly by a person blaming their dislike for a people group on some other issue. Previously, aversive prejudice theory research has mostly focused on racism (e.g., Pearson, Dovidio, & Gaertner, 2009), but a few researchers have also investigated this theory as it applies to gay men (e.g., Hoffarth, 2014). Also, a handful of studies have examined attitudes toward nonbinary transgender people and using ‘they’ as a singular pronoun (e.g., Hekanaho, 2019). However, to my knowledge, no prior research has applied aversive prejudice theory to bias against transgender individuals. I propose that this theory can be applied to trans people in this way: People may say that they have no prejudice against nonbinary transgender people and that they merely strongly believe that ‘they’ cannot be used as a singular pronoun because of their prescriptive grammar mentality. In reality, though, the problem for those people is that they are biased against transgender individuals.

I conducted a research study that gives evidence that aversive prejudice theory can be applied to situations involving transgender people. In an online survey, 722 participants answered questions about attitudes toward using 'they' as a gender neutral singular pronoun, prescriptive grammar, and transgender individuals. Regression analyses revealed that negative attitudes towards 'they' in a queer context are best predicted by prejudice against transgender individuals (B = -.632, p < .001), whereas in a general context, both prescriptive grammar mentality (B = -.325, p < .001) and attitudes towards transgender people (B = -.420, p < .001) similarly predict 'they' attitudes. This would not be the case if negative 'they' attitudes were merely an issue of taking a principled stance against what prescriptivists see as 'improper grammar'

When these and other results of this survey are interpreted with the lens of aversive prejudice theory, it becomes clear that these findings have important implications for understanding people's language ideologies and how they can reveal more ingrained attitudes toward transgender people.

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Reexamining 'They' Attitudes Research with an Aversive Prejudice Theory Lens

Aversive prejudice theory ascribes to the idea that prejudice can be expressed indirectly by a person blaming their dislike for a people group on some other issue. Previously, aversive prejudice theory research has mostly focused on racism (e.g., Pearson, Dovidio, & Gaertner, 2009), but a few researchers have also investigated this theory as it applies to gay men (e.g., Hoffarth, 2014). Also, a handful of studies have examined attitudes toward nonbinary transgender people and using ‘they’ as a singular pronoun (e.g., Hekanaho, 2019). However, to my knowledge, no prior research has applied aversive prejudice theory to bias against transgender individuals. I propose that this theory can be applied to trans people in this way: People may say that they have no prejudice against nonbinary transgender people and that they merely strongly believe that ‘they’ cannot be used as a singular pronoun because of their prescriptive grammar mentality. In reality, though, the problem for those people is that they are biased against transgender individuals.

I conducted a research study that gives evidence that aversive prejudice theory can be applied to situations involving transgender people. In an online survey, 722 participants answered questions about attitudes toward using 'they' as a gender neutral singular pronoun, prescriptive grammar, and transgender individuals. Regression analyses revealed that negative attitudes towards 'they' in a queer context are best predicted by prejudice against transgender individuals (B = -.632, p < .001), whereas in a general context, both prescriptive grammar mentality (B = -.325, p < .001) and attitudes towards transgender people (B = -.420, p < .001) similarly predict 'they' attitudes. This would not be the case if negative 'they' attitudes were merely an issue of taking a principled stance against what prescriptivists see as 'improper grammar'

When these and other results of this survey are interpreted with the lens of aversive prejudice theory, it becomes clear that these findings have important implications for understanding people's language ideologies and how they can reveal more ingrained attitudes toward transgender people.

https://digitalcommons.ciis.edu/lavlang/2021/friday/16