UTAH TECH UNIVERSITY'S STUDENT NEWS SOURCE | March 04, 2024

Letters to the Editor: Word choice impacts others’ perceptions

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In regards to the article “Vulgarity Hurts DSU’s Image”I would like to highlight the overall negative connotations made throughout the paper.  As an academic who has researched the neural underpinnings of memory associations, I was deeply troubled by what I read.  

Our memory systems are constantly bombarded with sensory stimuli. There is no little man in our head that can distinguish information fast enough as right or wrong. Therefore, when our brains read an article that states “Black Student Union” and the words “scum, trashy, low class, undereducated” our neural circuits tie all of these words together. With such a heavily charged, emotional article, these words that are tied together also stimulate our emotional centers.  These associations are what guide our behavior.  They dictate our perceptions of groups of individuals and how we choose to interact with them.  My hope is that we take this as a learning opportunity to choose our words more carefully.  Generalizations are a simple way in which our brain allows us to interact with our complex world. Let us not allow loaded generalizations to guide our interactions and perceptions of others. Our words do impact others without their ability to stop their bombardment on neural circuits. We have a responsibility as an academic community to take more time to think about the words we choose to explain our thoughts. 

Palwasha Ahad
Psychology Instructo