30 de dezembro de 2017

Notes on “Biased Terminology Effects and Biased Information Processing in Research on Adult-Nonadult Sexual Interactions: An Empirical Investigation”.

Filed under: Saúde e bem-estar — Tags:, — Yure @ 12:26

“Biased Terminology Effects and Biased Information Processing in Research on Adult-Nonadult Sexual Interactions: An Empirical Investigation” was written by Bruce Rind and Robert Bauserman. Below, some notes I wrote about that text. They won’t always reflect my opinion on this subject.

  1. Usually, adult/minor sexual interactions are described in negative terms, even when there’s no force and even if the minor benefits from the interaction (they may be called statutory “rape“, for example, when “rape” is a word that conveys the idea of forced penetration, even when there’s no penetration, nor force).
  2. However, some researchers claim that the use of those words to describe sexual interactions between adults and minors can have biasing effects on researchers and readers, keeping them from evaluating the experience from a neutral point of view, which is needed for science practice.
  3. The purpose of this study is to know if the use of those terms can really impact a reader’s judgement.
  4. “Child sexual abuse” is a term that is frequently used as blanket term for all sexual interactions between minors or between adult and minor, no matter if positive, negative or neutral.
  5. However, researchers have pointed out that the use of terms such as “abuse”, “exploitation” and “molestation” are applied to those contacts regardless of the effects on the child (a positive encounter is still called “abuse”, but it’s confusing for the reader to grasp how can “abuse” be “positive”).
  6. Those labels are applied based on social standards, not science.
  7. Similarly, minors who have those affairs are always “victims”, “molested children” or “survivors”, even if the minor rejects the label, welcomed the act or started it.
  8. Some researchers support that those tykes are victims despite their own judgement on the issue, meaning that the minor’s view of the act doesn’t matter depending on who is doing the therapy.
  9. The indiscriminate use of those terms confuses the reader: is “abuse” a harmful encounter or just a violation of social norms?
  10. Violation of social norms aren’t always harmful (gay sex was violation of social norms few decades ago).
  11. The use of those terms reveal the belief that adult/minor intimacy is always harmful or devoid of affection, but that’s not true.
  12. An author who uses those terms to describe all adult/minor contacts may be seen as biased (politically or otherwise)… or someone who is scared of public outrage.
  13. Those relationships aren’t always negative, so they shouldn’t be always described in negative terms.
  14. You shouldn’t assume that harm took place, unless it’s explicitly pointed out.
  15. Abuse exists, yes, but not all of those encounters can be labelled abuse.
  16. The use of words full of moral judgement keeps the reader from making an objective appraisal of the act.
  17. Labelling as “victim” someone who doesn’t feel like a victim, to the point of the person actually feeling like a victim, may cause psychological harm.
  18. The use of value-laden terms can also keep researchers from accurately interpreting the fact, causing wrong conclusions.
  19. Before, we used to label masturbation as “self-abuse” and homosexuality as “perversion”, which made several scientists look at those practices always negatively, giving birth to horrible research with horrible conclusions.
  20. If you want to check how “mere words” can predispose a person for a biased judgment, you just have to notice how we tend to disagree with people who use racist terms, even if they do have a point, because what they have a point, the way they express their point induces hate on the person who listens.
  21. This study uses the following method: an article about harmless childhood sexual experiences with adults was condensed and the neutral vocabulary (for example, “sexual contact”) was replaced with negative vocabulary (“abuse”), then the version with neutral vocabulary and the version with negative vocabulary were given to different groups of students (the same experiences, but one group received a version with “biased” vocabulary).
  22. If you learn that a non-violent adult/child relationship took place and label it as abuse, then you tell someone that “a person abused that child”, that someone might think “if he is calling it abuse, then it was violent”, which is a misunderstanding.
  23. There’s a lot of evidence of harmless adult/minor relationships.
  24. If you saw a minor who became a better person thanks to the sexual relationship they had with an adult, would you still label that relationship as abuse?
  25. Some researchers simply don’t believe that those contacts can be positive and completely disregard their existence despite evidence, interpreting the evidence as something else (such as not enough time for symptoms to occur).
  26. Many symptoms only appear after medical or legal intervention on an otherwise positive or neutral contact.
  27. The study included 80 students who received an article on harmless adult/minor relationships, separating them in four groups:
    1. Group one had the article describing the sexual contacts with neutral terms, without description of the minors’ adult lives.
    2. Group two had the article describing the sexual contact with neutral terms, plus a description of how the minors were going after they grew up.
    3. Group three had the article describing the sexual contact with negative terms, without description of the minors’ adult lives.
    4. Group four had the article describing the sexual contacts with negative terms, plus a description of how the minors were going after they grew up.
  28. Group two and group four know that those contacts didn’t harm the minor, but group four received a version that employed negative terms, allowing the researchers to see how that group would react upon noticing that kids drew benefit from the “abuse”.
  29. In any case, the testees were also asked if the terminology was suitable for the experiences, in a way that the ones who received the article with neutral terminology could judge if those experiences were abuse of not, while the ones who received the article with negative terminology could judge if those experiences deserved to be called abusive.
  30. The students also had to judge if the minors involved in those contacts really suffered or not.
  31. The students also had to judge if the minors were consenting.
  32. The students also had to judge if manipulation took place.
  33. The students also had to judge if the minors would need therapy.
  34. The students also had to judge if the adults involved were perverted or not.
  35. The students also had to judge if the adults needed to be punished or not.
  36. The students also had to judge if the author of the article was really making science or just propaganda (biased).
  37. Students who had access to information regarding the impact of those contacts on the minor after the minor became an adult had a bigger tendency to judge those contacts more positively (interesting to point out that news always describe adult/minor relationships in negative terms and frequently forget to present the minor’s judgment on that contact, meaning that we are all in group three).
  38. It seems like the use of negative terminology and the suppression of information indeed plays a role in predisposing a reader to give a negative judgment to a non-negative sexual encounter.
  39. However, it seems that all groups agree that the terminology was adequate, which means that the reader, although predisposed to negative judgment when reading an account using negative terms, does not think neutral terms would be more appropriate, which means that neutral language and negative language were both judged appropriate, even they had different effects on the judgment.
  40. More than that, negative judgment remains when the act is described in negative terms, even in the absence of any harm.
  41. That means that the use of negative terms to describe adult/minor relationships, regardless of harm of absence of harm, may cause indoctrination in the reader.
  42. The indiscriminate use of negative terms, instead of using them only for negative experiences, undermines scientific impartiality.
  43. The use of negative language also impairs the judgment of the outcomes in group four.
  44. Uncommon sexual behavior is not always sick.
  45. The behavior of those involved in the study can not be generalized because people in general tend to be less liberal than those who volunteer in sexual studies, which means that the normal person could judge these relationships negatively even in the absence of negative terms.
  46. Moreover, the article to which the students were exposed dealt with homosexual relationships between adolescent and adult males, but students might have judged differently if the article dealt with relationships involving children, or if the relationships were heterosexual.
  47. In spite of this, the use of negative language is capable of predisposing the reader to negative judgment, even when those involved are adolescents and even if no harm has occurred, causing the data, even when objective and empirical, to be presented in a biased manner.
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