The persuasive power of pronouns

The persuasive power of pronouns

Click on this link to listen to the audio from  Radio National.

Politics, it’s a war or words. We might hope they carry a little meaning, but it seems that there is also science behind making a winning political speech.

Are some words more politically effective than others?

Well we have the answers, as a Queensland University study has found that political leaders who use the collective pronouns “us” and “we” are more likely to win – far more likely.

Children and families become ‘it’ and ‘them’ as asylum seekers are dehumanised

Children and families become ‘it’ and ‘them’ as asylum seekers are dehumanised

Date July 17, 2013 Category Opinion
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Stephanie Peatling

Senior writer

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Stills from a Four Corners program on the Villawood Detention Centre. Mohammad Bedraie holds his son, Shayan,6, with mother, Zahra Saberi.
Asylum seekers issue ‘poisoned by politics’

Remember Shayan Badraie?

In 2001 he was a six-year-old boy who lay limp in his parents arms as they told the ABC Four Corners program that Shayan was so traumatised by his time in Villawood detention centre that he had stopped eating and drinking.

Art by Children in Detention

Drawings done by kids in detention on Manus Island. Photo: GetUp and Chilout

The then immigration minister, Philip Ruddock, was criticised for his apparent lack of compassion towards the family, which was noticeable in his repeated references to Shayan as “it”.

Not “the boy” or “the child” or “him” or any other slightly more personal way of referring to a human being.

Of course it was deliberate.

A tough immigration policy relies on preventing stories such as Shayan’s from being told.

It it why pictures drawn by children held in the processing centre on Manus Island and released by Greens Senator Sarah Hanson Young early this year are so affecting. Continue reading