Researchers at the University of Waterloo were interested in whether euphemisms, or doublespeak, lead to a more positive interpretation of what a speaker says, without opening up the speaker to accusations of dishonesty.
They were interested in substitutions such as “enhanced interrogation” for “torture” or “meat-processing plant” for “slaughterhouse.”
The researchers’ results confirmed that peoples’ evaluations of an action can be biased in a predictable, self-serving way when an individual employs the strategic use of more or less agreeable terms when describing an action.
“Our study shows how language can be used strategically to shape peoples’ opinions of events or actions,” Walker said. “With a lower level of risk, individuals may be able to utilize linguistic manipulation, such as doublespeak, often without correction.”
If you’re not dealing with items as disagreeable as torturing people or slaughtering animals are there any useful and ethical uses for these practices? Perhaps.
I’m reminded of Charmin’s “Enjoy the Go”
campaign. I think if the brand was using a less euphemistic term than “go” the ads wouldn’t land quite the same way.
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