A Framework for the Computational Linguistic Analysis of Dehumanization

6 Mar 2020  ·  Julia Mendelsohn, Yulia Tsvetkov, Dan Jurafsky ·

Dehumanization is a pernicious psychological process that often leads to extreme intergroup bias, hate speech, and violence aimed at targeted social groups. Despite these serious consequences and the wealth of available data, dehumanization has not yet been computationally studied on a large scale... Drawing upon social psychology research, we create a computational linguistic framework for analyzing dehumanizing language by identifying linguistic correlates of salient components of dehumanization. We then apply this framework to analyze discussions of LGBTQ people in the New York Times from 1986 to 2015. Overall, we find increasingly humanizing descriptions of LGBTQ people over time. However, we find that the label homosexual has emerged to be much more strongly associated with dehumanizing attitudes than other labels, such as gay. Our proposed techniques highlight processes of linguistic variation and change in discourses surrounding marginalized groups. Furthermore, the ability to analyze dehumanizing language at a large scale has implications for automatically detecting and understanding media bias as well as abusive language online. read more

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