Biases in News Media as Reflected by Personal Pronouns in Evaluative Contexts

Marie Gustafsson, Sverker Sikström, Torun Lindgren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, we study whether pronouns in news media are used in evaluative contexts reflecting psychological biases. The evaluative contexts of pronouns are measured by computerized sentiment analysis, enabling analyses of large text corpora and subtle evaluative differences in how words are used in contexts. The results show that self-inclusive personal pronouns (We, I) occur in more positive contexts than self-exclusive personal pronouns (He/She,They), reflecting self- and group-serving biases. The context of collective pronouns is more differentiated than that of individual pronouns, such that We occur in the most positive context whereas They occur in the most negative context, possibly reflecting a motivation caused by competition between groups. The implications of using pronouns in studies of social processes are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-111
JournalSocial Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Psychology

Free keywords

  • pronouns in social categorization
  • language bias
  • intergroup bias
  • self-serving bias
  • latent semantic analysis
  • implicit attitudes


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