Journal article

Harm inflation: Making sense of concept creep

Nick Haslam, Brodie C Dakin, Fabian Fabiano, Melanie J McGrath, Joshua Rhee, Ekaterina Vylomova, Morgan Weaving, Melissa A Wheeler

EUROPEAN REVIEW OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY | ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD | Published : 2020

Abstract

“Concept creep” is the gradual semantic expansion of harm-related concepts such as bullying, mental disorder, prejudice, and trauma. This review presents a synopsis of relevant theoretical advances and empirical research findings on the phenomenon. It addresses three fundamental questions. First, it clarifies the characterisation of concept creep by refining its theoretical and historical dimensions and presenting studies investigating the change in harm-related concepts using computational linguistics. Second, it examines factors that have caused concept creep, including cultural shifts in sensitivity to harm, societal changes in the prevalence of harm, and intentional meaning changes engin..

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