Online: Speciesism in everyday language

Stefan Leach gave the September talk in the PHAIR Society Speakers series on “Speciesism in Everyday Language”. You can watch the talk online:


Speciesism, like other forms of prejudice, is thought to be underpinned by biased patterns of language use. Thus far, however, psychological science has largely focused on how speciesism is reflected in individuals’ thoughts as opposed to wider collective systems of meaning such as language. We present a large-scale quantitative test of speciesism by applying machine-learning methods (word embeddings) to billions of English words derived from conversation, film, books, and the internet. We found evidence of anthropocentric speciesism: words denoting concern (vs. indifference) and value (vs. valuelessness) were more closely associated with words denoting humans compared to most other animals. We also found evidence of companion animal speciesism: the same words were more closely associated with words denoting companion animals compared to other animals. The work paints a picture of speciesism as a pervasive collective truth that is evident in a naturally occurring expression of human psychology–everyday language

We have more talks coming up:

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