Hate the sin, blame the sinner : the effects of language on attitudes toward substance use disorders




Tinlin, Charles Ryan

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The reported study aims to explain the role syntactic choices, such as noun form, can have on the perceived persuasiveness of arguments related to opioid use disorders. In addition to these syntactical choices, the author was also interested in how semantic differences, such as argument frames, can influence persuasiveness. Participants (N=764) were exposed to one of eight op-ed style essays using different argument frames (health crisis vs. moral crisis), different noun forms referred to as actor nouns (addicts) and activity nouns (addiction), and different diagnostic labels (addiction vs. abuse). This study found that argument frames and nominal form can influence audience perceptions of agency and responsibility in people living with opioid use disorders. These differing perceptions of agency appeared to influence the persuasiveness of essays prescribing differing degrees of punishments for individuals’ living with substance use disorders.


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