Complexity and Valence in Ethnophaulisms and Exclusion of Ethnic Out-Groups: What Puts the “Hate” Into Hate Speech?
Rice, Diana R.
Ethnophaulisms (A. A. Roback, 1944) are the words used as ethnic slurs to refer to out-groups in hate speech. The results of previous archival research have suggested that it is the complexity, more so than the valence, of ethnophaulisms that predicts the exclusion of ethnic immigrant out-groups from the receiving society. This article reports the results of 3 experimental examinations of the relative contributions of complexity and valence in ethnophaulisms to the exclusion of an ethnic out-group. Experiment 1 demonstrated that exclusion of the ethnic out-group was increased by the use of low-complexity ethnophaulisms. Experiment 2 demonstrated that exclusion of the ethnic out-group decreased by the use of high-complexity ethnophaulisms. Experiment 3 confirmed the demonstration that exclusion decreased by the use of a different set of high-complexity ethnophaulisms. The results of these three experiments converge to indicate that low complexity exerts more of an effect than negative valences on the exclusion of an ethnic out-group. The implications of these results for theoretical approaches to intergroup behavior are considered.