Doublespeak or the use of euphemisms to sway opinion – sometimes referred to as speaking with a forked tongue – lets leaders avoid the reputational costs of lying while still bringing people around to their way of thinking, a new study has found.
Researchers at the University of Waterloo found that the use of agreeable euphemistic terms biases people’s evaluations of actions to be more favourable. For example, replacing a disagreeable term, “torture,” with something more innocuous and semantically agreeable, like “enhanced interrogation.”
“Like the much-studied phenomenon of ‘fake news,’ manipulative language can serve as a tool for misleading the public, doing so not with falsehoods but rather with the strategic use of euphemistic language,” said Alexander Walker, lead author of the study and a PhD candidate in cognitive psychology at Waterloo. “The avoidance of objectively false claims may provide the strategic user of language with plausible deniability of dishonesty, thus protecting them from the reputational cost associated with lying.” [Read more…] about The truth about doublespeak: Is it lying or just being persuasive?