Biased Terminology Effects and Biased Information Processing in Research on Adult-Nonadult Sexual Interactions:
An Empirical Investigation

Bruce Rind
Department of Psychology, Miami University

Robert Bauserman
Department of Psychology, Syracuse University

The Journal of Sex Research Vol. 30, No.3, pp. 260-269 August 1993

* Correspondence should be sent to Bruce Rind, Ph.D.,

P.O. Box 27558, Philadelphia. PA 19118.




Neutral terminology 
Negative terminology 
Descriptive information only 
Descriptive plus outcome information 

Multivariate Analyses  
Univariate Analyses 
Table 1 
Table 2 
Author Objectivity and Terminology Appropriateness 




Adult-child and adult-adolescent sexual interactions have generally been described in the professional literature with value-laden negative terms. Recently, a number of researchers have criticized this state of affairs, claiming that such usage is likely to have biasing effects.

The current investigation examined empirically the biasing impact of negative terminology.

Eighty undergraduate students read a shortened journal article that used either neutral or negative terms to describe a number of cases of sexual relationships between male adolescents and male adults - the shortened article was adapted from Tindall (1978). Additionally, students were exposed either to descriptive information or descriptive plus long-term nonnegative outcome information. The purpose of this manipulation was to examine whether students would process the neutral and positive data in a biased fashion, because these data contradict strongly held assumptions of harm as a consequence of these contacts. Students' judgments were negatively biased by the negative terminology. The students also exhibited evidence for biased processing of the nonnegative outcome information.


[Introduction] Method Results Discussion References