The influence of target group status on the perception of the offensiveness of group-based slurs

P.J. Henry, S. Butler, M.J. Brandt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Two studies investigate the effects of target group status on perceptions of the offensiveness of group-based slurs. Using real-world groups as targets, Study 1 showed that the perception that a group is of lower status in society is associated with the perceived offensiveness of insults targeting that group. Experimental methods in Study 2 showed that people perceive slurs against a low status group as especially offensive, a pattern that was mediated by the expectation that low-status targets would be emotionally reactive to the insult. The results suggest that cultural taboos emerge concerning insults against low-status groups that may be due in part to how those target groups are expected to respond emotionally to those insults.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-192
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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