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The term political correctness (adjectivally: politically correct; commonly abbreviated to PC or P.C.) is used to describe language, policies, or measures that are intended to avoid offense or disadvantage to members of particular groups in society.[1][2][3][4][5] Since the late 1980s, the term has come to refer to avoiding language or behavior that can be seen as "excluding, marginalizing, or insulting groups of people considered "disadvantaged or discriminated against, especially groups defined by sex or race. In public discourse and the media, it is generally used as a "pejorative, implying that these policies are excessive.[6][3][7][8][9][10][11]

The contemporary usage of the term emerged from "conservative criticism of the "New Left in the late 20th century. The phrase was widely used in the debate about "Allan Bloom's 1987 book "The Closing of the American Mind,[7][9][12][13] and gained further currency in response to "Roger Kimball's Tenured Radicals (1990),[7][9][14][15] and conservative author "Dinesh D'Souza's 1991 book Illiberal Education, in which he condemned what he saw as liberal efforts to advance "self-victimization and "multiculturalism through language, "affirmative action, and changes to the content of school and university curricula.[7][8][14][16] The term was also the subject of articles in "The New York Times and other media throughout the 1990s.[17][18][19][20][21][22]

Commentators on the "political left contend that conservatives use the concept of political correctness to downplay and divert attention from substantively discriminatory behavior against disadvantaged groups. [14][23][24] They also argue that the "political right enforces its own forms of political correctness to suppress criticism of its favored constituencies and ideologies.[25][26][27] The term has played a major role in the United States "culture war between "liberals and "conservatives.[28]



The term "politically correct" was used infrequently until the latter part of the 20th century. This earlier use did not communicate the social disapproval usually implied in more recent usage. In 1793, the term "politically correct" appeared in a "U.S. Supreme Court judgment of a political lawsuit.[29] The term also had use in other "English-speaking countries in the 1800s.[30] "William Safire states that the first recorded use of the term in the typical modern sense is by "Toni Cade Bambara in the 1970 "anthology The Black Woman.[31]["clarification needed] The term probably entered use in the United Kingdom around 1975.[11]["clarification needed]

Early-to-mid 20th century[edit]

In the early-to-mid 20th century, the phrase "politically correct" was used to describe strict adherence to a range of ideological orthodoxies. In 1934, the "New York Times reported that Nazi Germany was granting reporting permits "only to pure ‘Aryans’ whose opinions are politically correct."[2]

As "Marxist-Leninist movements gained political power, the phrase came to be associated with accusations of "dogmatic application of doctrine, in debates between American "Communists and American "Socialists. This usage referred to the Communist "party line which, in the eyes of the Socialists, provided "correct" positions on all political matters. According to American educator "Herbert Kohl, writing about debates in New York in the late 1940s and early 1950s,

The term "politically correct" was used disparagingly, to refer to someone whose loyalty to the CP line overrode compassion, and led to bad politics. It was used by Socialists against Communists, and was meant to separate out Socialists who believed in egalitarian moral ideas from dogmatic Communists who would advocate and defend party positions regardless of their moral substance.

— "Uncommon Differences", The Lion and the Unicorn Journal[3]


In the 1970s, the American "New Left began using the term "politically correct".[32] In the essay The Black Woman: An Anthology (1970), "Toni Cade Bambara said that "a man cannot be politically correct and a "[male] chauvinist, too." Thereafter, the term was often used as self-critical "satire. Debra L. Shultz said that "throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the New Left, "feminists, and "progressives... used their term 'politically correct' ironically, as a guard against their own orthodoxy in social change efforts."[7][32][33] PC is used in the comic book Merton of the Movement, by "Bobby London, which was followed by the term ideologically sound, in the comic strips of "Bart Dickon.[32][34] In her essay "Toward a feminist Revolution" (1992) "Ellen Willis said: "In the early eighties, when feminists used the term 'political correctness', it was used to refer sarcastically to the "anti-pornography movement's efforts to define a 'feminist sexuality'."[35]

"Stuart Hall suggests one way in which the original use of the term may have developed into the modern one:

According to one version, political correctness actually began as an in-joke on the left: radical students on American campuses acting out an ironic replay of the Bad Old Days BS (Before the Sixties) when every revolutionary groupuscule had a party line about everything. They would address some glaring examples of sexist or racist behaviour by their fellow students in imitation of the tone of voice of the Red Guards or Cultural Revolution Commissar: "Not very 'politically correct', Comrade!"[36]

1980s and 1990s[edit]

"Allan Bloom's 1987 book "The Closing of the American Mind[12] heralded a debate about "political correctness" in American higher education in the 1980s and 1990s.[7][9][13][37] Professor of English literary and cultural studies at "CMU Jeffrey J. Williams wrote that the "assault on ... political correctness that simmered through the Reagan years, gained bestsellerdom with Bloom's Closing of the American Mind." [38] According to Z.F. Gamson, Bloom's book "attacked the faculty for 'political correctness'."[39] Prof. of Social Work at "CSU Tony Platt says the "campaign against 'political correctness'" was launched by Bloom's book in 1987.[40]

An October 1990 "New York Times article by "Richard Bernstein is credited with popularizing the term.[19][21][22][41][42] At this time, the term was mainly being used within academia: "Across the country the term p.c., as it is commonly abbreviated, is being heard more and more in debates over what should be taught at the universities".[17] "Nexis citations in "arcnews/curnews" reveal only seventy total citations in articles to "political correctness" for 1990; but one year later, Nexis records 1532 citations, with a steady increase to more than 7000 citations by 1994.[41][43] In May 1991, The New York Times had a follow-up article, according to which the term was increasingly being used in a wider public arena:

What has come to be called "political correctness," a term that began to gain currency at the start of the academic year last fall, has spread in recent months and has become the focus of an angry national debate, mainly on campuses, but also in the larger arenas of American life.

— "Political Correctness: New Bias Test?" – Robert D. McFadden[18]

The previously obscure far-left term became common currency in the lexicon of the conservative social and political challenges against "progressive teaching methods and curriculum changes in the secondary schools and universities of the U.S.[8][44] Policies, behavior, and speech codes that the speaker or the writer regarded as being the imposition of a liberal orthodoxy, were described and criticized as "politically correct".[14] In May 1991, at a commencement ceremony for a graduating class of the University of Michigan, then U.S. President "George H.W. Bush used the term in his speech: "The notion of political correctness has ignited controversy across the land. And although the movement arises from the laudable desire to sweep away the debris of racism and sexism and hatred, it replaces old prejudice with new ones. It declares certain topics off-limits, certain expression off-limits, even certain gestures off-limits."[45]

After 1991, its use as a pejorative phrase became widespread amongst conservatives in the US.[8] It became a key term encapsulating conservative concerns about the left in culture and political debate more broadly, as well as in academia. Two articles on the topic in late 1990 in "Forbes and "Newsweek both used the term ""thought police" in their headlines, exemplifying the tone of the new usage, but it was Dinesh D'Souza's Illiberal Education: The Politics of Race and Sex on Campus (1991) which "captured the press's imagination."[8] Similar critical terminology was used by D'Souza for a range of policies in academia around victimization, supporting multiculturalism through affirmative action, sanctions against anti-minority "hate speech, and revising curricula (sometimes referred to as "canon busting").[8][46]["not in citation given] These trends were at least in part a response to multiculturalism and the rise of "identity politics, with movements such as feminism, gay rights movements and ethnic minority movements. That response received funding from conservative foundations and think tanks such as the "John M. Olin Foundation, which funded several books such as D'Souza's.[7][14]

"Herbert Kohl, in 1992, commented that a number of "neoconservatives who promoted the use of the term "politically correct" in the early 1990s were former "Communist Party members, and, as a result, familiar with the "Marxist use of the phrase. He argued that in doing so, they intended "to insinuate that egalitarian democratic ideas are actually authoritarian, orthodox and Communist-influenced, when they oppose the right of people to be racist, sexist, and homophobic."[3]

During the 1990s, conservative and "right-wing politicians, think-tanks, and speakers adopted the phrase as a pejorative descriptor of their ideological enemies – especially in the context of the "Culture Wars about "language and the content of public-school curricula. "Roger Kimball, in Tenured Radicals, endorsed "Frederick Crews's view that PC is best described as "Left Eclecticism", a term defined by Kimball as "any of a wide variety of anti-establishment modes of thought from structuralism and poststructuralism, deconstruction, and Lacanian analyst to feminist, homosexual, black, and other patently political forms of criticism."[15][38] "Jan Narveson wrote that "that phrase was born to live between scare-quotes: it suggests that the operative considerations in the area so called are merely political, steamrolling the genuine reasons of principle for which we ought to be acting..."[6]

In the "American Speech journal article "Cultural Sensitivity and Political Correctness: The Linguistic Problem of Naming" (1996), Edna Andrews said that the usage of culturally inclusive and gender-neutral language is based upon the concept that "language represents thought, and may even control thought".[47] Andrews' proposition is conceptually derived from the "Sapir–Whorf Hypothesis, which proposes that the grammatical categories of a language shape the ideas, thoughts, and actions of the speaker. Moreover, Andrews said that politically moderate conceptions of the language–thought relationship suffice to support the "reasonable deduction ... [of] cultural change via linguistic change" reported in the Sex Roles journal article "Development and Validation of an Instrument to Measure Attitudes Toward Sexist/Nonsexist Language" (2000), by Janet B. Parks and Mary Ann Robinson.["citation needed]

Liberal commentators have argued that the conservatives and reactionaries who used the term did so in effort to divert political discussion away from the substantive matters of resolving societal discrimination – such as "racial, "social class, "gender, and legal inequality – against people whom conservatives do not consider part of the social mainstream.[7][23][48] Commenting in 2001, one such British journalist,[49][50] "Polly Toynbee, said "the phrase is an empty, right-wing smear, designed only to elevate its user", and, in 2010, "the phrase 'political correctness' was born as a coded cover for all who still want to say "Paki, "spastic, or "queer".[51] Another British journalist, "Will Hutton,[52] wrote in 2001:

Political correctness is one of the brilliant tools that the American Right developed in the mid–1980s, as part of its demolition of American liberalism.... What the sharpest thinkers on the American Right saw quickly was that by declaring war on the cultural manifestations of liberalism – by levelling the charge of "political correctness" against its exponents – they could discredit the whole political project.

— "Words Really are Important, Mr Blunkett"  —Will Hutton, 2001

"Glenn Loury described the situation in 1994 as such:

To address the subject of "political correctness," when power and authority within the academic community is being contested by parties on either side of that issue, is to invite scrutiny of one's arguments by would-be "friends" and "enemies." Combatants from the left and the right will try to assess whether a writer is "for them" or "against them."

— "Self-Censorship in Public Discourse: A Theory of "Political Correctness" and Related Phenomena"[53]

Modern usage[edit]


In the US, the term has been widely used in books and journals, but in Britain, usage has been confined mainly to the popular press.[54] Many such authors and popular-media figures, particularly on the right, have used the term to criticize what they see as bias in the media.[6][14] William McGowan argues that journalists get stories wrong or ignore stories worthy of coverage, because of what McGowan perceives to be their liberal ideologies and their fear of offending minority groups.[55] Robert Novak, in his essay "Political Correctness Has No Place in the Newsroom", used the term to blame newspapers for adopting language use policies that he thinks tend to excessively avoid the appearance of bias. He argued that political correctness in language not only destroys meaning but also demeans the people who are meant to be protected.[56] Authors David Sloan and Emily Hoff claim that in the US, journalists shrug off concerns about political correctness in the newsroom, equating the political correctness criticisms with the old "liberal media bias" label.[57]

Jessica Pinta and Joy Yakubu cautioned against political incorrectness in media and other uses, writing in the Journal of Educational and Social Research: "...linguistic constructs influence our way of thinking negatively, peaceful coexistence is threatened and social stability is jeopardized." What may result, they add as example "the effect of political incorrect use of language" in some historical occurrences:

Conflicts were recorded in Northern Nigeria as a result of insensitive use of language. In Kaduna for instance violence broke out on the 16th November 2002 following an article credited to one Daniel Isioma which was published in “This Day” Newspaper, where the writer carelessly made a remark about the Prophet Mohammed and the beauty queens of the Miss World Beauty Pageant that was to be hosted in the Country that year (Terwase n.d). In this crisis, He reported that over 250 people were killed and churches destroyed. In the same vein, crisis erupted on 18th February 2006 in Borno because of a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed in Iyllands-posten Newspaper (Terwase n.d). Here over 50 people were killed and 30 churches burnt.

— "Language Use and Political Correctness for Peaceful Coexistence: Implications for Sustainable Development"[58]


Much of the modern debate on the term was sparked by conservative critiques of "liberal bias in academia and education,[7] and conservatives have used it as a major line of attack since.[8] University of Pennsylvania professor "Alan Charles Kors and lawyer "Harvey A. Silverglate connect "speech codes in US universities to philosopher "Herbert Marcuse. They claim that speech codes create a "climate of repression", arguing that they are based on "Marcusean logic". The speech codes, "mandate a redefined notion of "freedom", based on the belief that the imposition of a moral agenda on a community is justified", a view which, "requires less emphasis on individual rights and more on assuring "historically oppressed" persons the means of achieving equal rights." They claim:

Our colleges and universities do not offer the protection of fair rules, equal justice, and consistent standards to the generation that finds itself on our campuses. They encourage students to bring charges of harassment against those whose opinions or expressions "offend" them. At almost every college and university, students deemed members of "historically oppressed groups" – above all, women, blacks, gays, and Hispanics – are informed during orientation that their campuses are teeming with illegal or intolerable violations of their "right" not to be offended. Judging from these warnings, there is a racial or sexual bigot, to borrow the mocking phrase of McCarthy's critics, "under every bed."[59]

Kors and Silverglate later established the "Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which campaigns against infringement of rights of due process, in particular "speech codes".[60]["unreliable source?] Similarly, a common conservative criticism of higher education in the United States is that "the political views of the faculty are much more liberal than the general population, and that this situation contributes to an atmosphere of political correctness.[61]

Jessica Pinta and Joy Yakubu write that political correctness is useful in education, in the Journal of Educational and Social Research:

Political correctness is a useful area of consideration when using English language particularly in second language situations. This is because both social and cultural contexts of language are taken into consideration. Zabotkina (1989) says political correctness is not only an essential, but an interesting area of study in English as a Second Language (ESL) or English as Foreign Language (EFL) classrooms. This is because it presents language as used in carrying out different speech acts which provoke reactions as it can persuade, incite, complain, condemn, and disapprove. Language is used for communication and creating social linkages, as such must be used communicatively. Using language communicatively involves the ability to use language at the grammatical level, sociolinguistic level, discourse and strategic levels (Canale & Swain 1980). Understanding language use at these levels center around the fact that differences exist among people, who must communicate with one another, and the differences could be religious, cultural, social, racial, gender or even ideological. Therefore, using language to suit the appropriate culture and context is of great significance.

— "Language Use and Political Correctness for Peaceful Coexistence: Implications for Sustainable Development "[58]


One example of criticism of language used in science, similar to criticism of language used in politics, was highlighted when zoologists Robert Pitman and Susan Chivers complained about popular and media negativity towards their discovery of two different types of "killer whales, a "docile" type and a "wilder" type that ravages sperm whales by hunting in packs: "The forces of political correctness and media marketing seem bent on projecting an image of a more benign form (the "Free Willy or "Shamu model), and some people urge exclusive use of the name 'orca' for the species, instead of what is perceived as the more sinister label of 'killer whale'."[62]

Groups who oppose certain generally accepted scientific views about "evolution, "second-hand tobacco smoke, "AIDS, "global warming, "race, and other politically contentious scientific matters have used the term "political correctness" to describe what they view as unwarranted rejection of their perspective on these issues by a scientific community they feel is corrupted by liberal politics.[63] For example, in Lamarck's Signature: How Retrogenes are Changing Darwin's Natural Selection Paradigm (1999), Prof. "Edward J. Steele said:

We now stand on the threshold of what could be an exciting new era of genetic research.... However, the 'politically correct' thought agendas of the neo–Darwinists of the 1990s are ideologically opposed to the idea of 'Lamarckian Feedback', just as the Church was opposed to the idea of evolution based on natural selection in the 1850s![64]

Conservative political correctness[edit]

"Political correctness" is a label typically used for liberal terms and actions, but not for equivalent attempts to mold language and behavior on the right.[65] However, the term "right-wing political correctness" is sometimes applied by commentators,[66] especially when drawing parallels: in 1995, one author used the term "conservative correctness" arguing, in relation to "higher education, that "critics of political correctness show a curious blindness when it comes to examples of conservative correctness. Most often, the case is entirely ignored or censorship of the Left is justified as a positive virtue. [...] A balanced perspective was lost, and everyone missed the fact that people on all sides were sometimes censored."[25]

In 2003, the "Dixie Chicks, a U.S. country music group, "criticized the then U.S. President George W. Bush for launching "the war against Iraq.[67] Some conservative US commentators (including "Ann Coulter and "Bill O'Reilly) said they were treasonous.[26] Three years later, claiming that at the time "a virulent strain of right wing political correctness [had] all but shut down debate about the war in Iraq," journalist Don Williams wrote that "[the ongoing] campaign against the Chicks represents political correctness run amok" and observed, "the ugliest form of political correctness occurs whenever there's a war on."[26]

In 2003, "French fries and "French toast were renamed ""Freedom fries" and "Freedom toast" in three U.S. House of Representatives cafeterias in response to France's opposition to the proposed "invasion of Iraq; this was described as "polluting the already confused concept of political correctness."[68] In 2004, then "Australian Labor leader "Mark Latham described conservative calls for "civility" in politics as "the new political correctness."[69]

In 2012, "Paul Krugman wrote: "the big threat to our discourse is right-wing political correctness, which – unlike the liberal version – has lots of power and money behind it. And the goal is very much the kind of thing Orwell tried to convey with his notion of Newspeak: to make it impossible to talk, and possibly even think, about ideas that challenge the established order."[27]

In a 2015 "Harris poll it was found that "Republicans are almost twice as likely – 42 percent vs. 23 percent – as Democrats to say that “there are any books that should be banned completely.”... Republicans were also more likely to say that some video games, movies and television programs should be banned."[70]

After "Mike Pence was booed at a November 2016 performance of "Hamilton, president-elect "Trump called it harassment and asked for "safe place".[71] "Chrissy Teigen commented that it was "the very thing him and his supporters make fun of as liberal political correctness."[72]

Alex Nowrasteh of the "Cato Institute defined the right's own version of political correctness as “patriotic correctness”.[73] "Vox editor Dara Lind summarized the definition as "a brand of right-wing hypersensitivity that gets just as offended by insults to American pride and patriotism (like protests against the president-elect or “The Star-Spangled Banner”) as any college activist gets over insults to diversity."[74] Jim Geraghty of "National Review replied to Nowrasteh, stating that "There is no right-wing equivalent to political correctness."[75]["why?]

2016 US presidential election[edit]

In 2015 and 2016, leading up to the "2016 United States presidential election, Republican candidate "Donald Trump used political correctness as a common target in his rhetoric.[74][76][24] According to Trump, "Barack Obama and "Hillary Clinton were willing to let ordinary Americans suffer because their first priority was political correctness.[77]

In a column for "the Huffington Post, Eric Mink characterized Trump's concept of "political correctness":

Political correctness is a controversial social force in a nation with a constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression, and it raises legitimate issues well worth discussing and debating. But that’s not what Trump is doing. He’s not a rebel speaking unpopular truths to power. He’s not standing up for honest discussions of deeply contentious issues. He’s not out there defying rules handed down by elites to control what we say. All Trump’s defying is common decency.[24]

In the light of the "sexual assault allegations and the criticism the alleged victims faced from Trump supporters, "Vox notes that after railing so much against political correctness they simply practice a different kind of repression and shaming: "If the pre–“political correctness” era was really so open, why is it only now that these women are speaking out?"[78] Following the 2016 election, "Los Angeles Times columnist Jessica Roy wrote that "political correctness" is one of the terms used by the American "alt-right.[79]

As a conspiracy theory[edit]

Some conservative commentators in the "West argue that "political correctness" and multiculturalism are part of a conspiracy with the ultimate goal of undermining "Judeo-Christian values. This theory, which holds that political correctness originates from the "critical theory of the "Frankfurt School as part of a conspiracy that its proponents call "Cultural Marxism", is generally known as the "Frankfurt School conspiracy theory by academics.[80] The theory originated with Michael Minnicino's 1992 essay "New Dark Age: Frankfurt School and 'Political Correctness'", published in a "Lyndon LaRouche movement journal.[81] In 2001, conservative commentator "Patrick Buchanan wrote in "The Death of the West that "political correctness is cultural Marxism", and that "its trademark is intolerance".[82]

False accusations[edit]

In the United States, left forces of "political correctness" have been blamed for censorship, with "Time citing campaigns against violence on network television as contributing to a "mainstream culture [which] has become cautious, sanitized, scared of its own shadow" because of "the watchful eye of the p.c. police", even though in John Wilson's view protests and advertiser boycotts targeting TV shows are generally organized by right-wing religious groups campaigning against violence, sex, and depictions of homosexuality on television.[83]

In the United Kingdom, some newspapers reported that a "nursery school had altered the nursery rhyme ""Baa Baa Black Sheep" to read ""Baa Baa Rainbow Sheep" and had banned the original.[84] But it was later reported that in fact the Parents and Children Together (PACT) nursery had the children "turn the song into an action rhyme.... They sing happy, sad, bouncing, hopping, pink, blue, black and white sheep etc."[85] This story was widely circulated and later extended to suggest that other language bans applied to the terms "black coffee" and "blackboard".[86] "Private Eye magazine reported that "similar stories had been published in the British press since "The Sun first ran them in 1986.[87]

Satirical use[edit]

Political correctness is often satirized, for example in The PC Manifesto (1992) by Saul Jerushalmy and Rens Zbignieuw X,[88] and "Politically Correct Bedtime Stories (1994) by "James Finn Garner, which presents "fairy tales re-written from an exaggerated politically correct perspective. In 1994, the comedy film "PCU took a look at political correctness on a college campus.

Other examples include the television program "Politically Incorrect, "George Carlin’s "Euphemisms" routine, and The Politically Correct Scrapbook.[89] The popularity of the "South Park cartoon program led to the creation of the term ""South Park Republican" by "Andrew Sullivan, and later the book "South Park Conservatives by "Brian C. Anderson.[90] In its "Season 19 (2015), South Park poked fun at the principle of political correctness, embodied in the show's new character, "PC Principal.[91]

"The Colbert Report's host "Stephen Colbert often talked, satirically, about the "PC Police".[92]

Usage in selected regions[edit]


Graham Good, an academic at the "University of British Columbia, wrote that the term was widely used in debates on university education in Canada. Writing about a 1995 report on the Political Science department at his university, he concluded: "Political correctness" has become a popular phrase because it catches a certain kind of self-righteous and judgmental tone in some and a pervasive anxiety in others – who, fearing that they may do something wrong, adjust their facial expressions, and pause in their speech to make sure they are not doing or saying anything inappropriate. The climate this has created on campuses is at least as bad in Canada as in the United States.[93]

Hong Kong[edit]

In "Hong Kong, as the "1997 handover drew nearer, greater control over the press was exercised by both owners and the "Chinese state. This had a direct impact on news coverage of relatively sensitive political issues. The Chinese authorities exerted pressure on individual newspapers to take pro-Beijing stances on controversial issues.[94] "Tung Chee-hwa's policy advisers and senior bureaucrats increasingly linked their actions and remarks to "political correctness." Zhaojia Liu and Siu-kai Lau, writing in The first Tung Chee-hwa administration : the first five years of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, said that "Hong Kong has traditionally been characterized as having freedom of speech and freedom of press, but that an unintended consequence of emphasizing political 'correctness' is to limit the space for such freedom of expression."[95]

New Zealand[edit]

In New Zealand, controversies over PC surfaced during the 1990s regarding the social studies school curriculum.[96][97]

Use in research[edit]

In a 2014 study, researchers at Cornell University reported that political correctness, by which they meant norms discouraging the use of sexist language and behaviour, increased creativity in mixed-sex work teams. This seemed to be because without the norms there was no common expectation about appropriate behavior. This meant men feared being perceived as sexist (thus potentially suffering social sanction) while women feared being perceived as incompetent and having their ideas under-valued, creating uncertainty for both sexes about how to interact. In same-sex teams, however, PC norms harmed productivity, possibly because they provided an irrelevant distraction to the task. In addition, the tasks assigned in the study were very typical and the researchers noted that political correctness may not be very useful when dealing with politically charged topics surrounding sex differences or issues relating to diversity, discrimination and equality, a possible limitation to the study. The researchers concluded that their findings indicated that political correctness could be useful in enhancing productivity in some circumstances.[98]

Other researchers have questioned the Cornell paper's conclusions, arguing that political correctness itself may create environments of uncertainty in the first place because political correctness focuses on the impact of behavior rather than the intent of behavior, causing uncertainty for individuals as they do not know if what they say will be regarded as offensive by others. They also cited other studies that they argue suggest politically correctness may negatively impact performance and that politically correct language may have less effect on sensitivity towards marginalized groups than politically incorrect language, as socially-inappropriate terms may causes individuals to overcompensate due to social desirability. Additionally, it was argued that there is no evidence politically correct language leads to a change in attitudes, probably because the euphemisms end up being associated with the features of the individuals they were designed to hide.[99]


A 2015 paper analysed the psychology of political correctness. The authors argue that the "general interpretation of [political correctness] is that it has something to do with avoiding policies, actions, and language that disadvantage or offend a particular group of people in society" and that political correctness focuses more on the impact of actions rather than the intent behind them. The study used a 192-point item survey that measured attitudes towards political correctness. The researchers found that there are two different types of political correctness: PC-Egalitarianism and PC-Authoritarianism. PC-Egalitarians tend to believe that group differences are cultural, that differences in group power are the result of societal injustices and they also support policies intended to benefit historically disadvantaged groups. PC-Egalitarians have an underlying motivation to achieve diversity through equality and any deviation from equality is assumed to be caused by culture. They have high verbal intelligence and favour democratic forms of governance. PC-Authoritarians tend to attribute group differences to biological differences, support censorship of offensive material, support harsher punitive justice for transgressors and favour more autocratic forms of governance. PC-Authoritarians have low verbal intelligence, seem to have greater sensitivity to offence and have an underlying motivation to achieve security and stability for those in distress. PC-Authoritarians have an overlap of traits with "right-wing authoritarians.[100][101][102]

It has also been suggested["by whom?] that political correctness is possibly motivated by extreme levels of compassion (also called pathological altruism). Compassion evolved to facilitate mother-child pair bonding and is thus biased towards those in need, as well as negative emotional reactions. This can cause people to form greater identification to those perceived as vulnerable and less identification towards those perceived as dominant. A possible consequence of this that extreme levels of compassion can result in difficulty in passing judgments on moral issues due to bias towards the perceived vulnerable in-group, as well as hostility towards the perceived dominant out-group, even in the absence of direct provocation.[103][104]

"Stephen Morris, an economist and a "game theorist, built a game model on the concept of political correctness, where "a speaker (advisor) communicates with the objective of conveying information, but the listener (decision maker) is initially unsure if the speaker is biased. There were three main insights from that model. First, in any informative equilibrium, certain statements will lower the reputation of the speaker, independent of whether they turn out to be true. Second, if reputational concerns are sufficiently important, no information is conveyed in equilibrium. Third, while instrumental reputational concerns might arise for many reasons, a sufficient reason is that speakers wish to be listened to." The Economist commented: "Mr Morris's model suggests that the incentive to be politically correct fades as society's population of racists, to take his example, falls."[105]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ For definitions see:
  2. ^ a b Gibson, Caitlin (January 13, 2016). "How 'politically correct' went from compliment to insult". Washington Post. Retrieved 7 October 2017. 
  3. ^ a b c d Kohl, Herbert (1992). "Uncommon Differences: On Political Correctness, Core Curriculum and Democracy in Education". The Lion and the Unicorn. 16 (1): 1–16. "doi:10.1353/uni.0.0216. Retrieved 10 November 2015. 
  4. ^ Florence, Joshua (October 30, 2015). "A Phrase in Flux: The History of Political Correctness". Harvard Political Review. Retrieved 7 October 2017. 
  5. ^ Chow, Kat (December 14, 2016). "'Politically Correct': The Phrase Has Gone From Wisdom To Weapon". NPR (National Public Radio). Retrieved 7 October 2017. 
  6. ^ a b c "Friedman, Marilyn; "Narveson, Jan (1995). Political correctness : for and against. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. "ISBN "0847679861. Retrieved 31 October 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Schultz, Debra L. (1993). "To Reclaim a Legacy of Diversity: Analyzing the 'Political Correctness' Debates in Higher Education" (PDF). New York: National Council for Research on Women. "ISBN "978-1880547137. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Whitney, D. Charles & Wartella, Ellen (1992). "Media Coverage of the "Political Correctness" Debate". Journal of Communication. 42 (2): 83. "doi:10.1111/j.1460-2466.1992.tb00780.x. 
  9. ^ a b c d Roberts, Peter (1997). "Paulo Freire and political correctness". Educational Philosophy and Theory: Incorporating ACCESS. 29 (2): 83. "doi:10.1111/j.1469-5812.1997.tb00022.x. 
  10. ^ Duignan, Peter; Gann, L.H. (1995). Political correctness. Stanford, [Calif.]: Hoover Institution – Stanford University. "ISBN "0817937439. Retrieved 25 October 2015. 
  11. ^ a b Hughes, Geoffrey (2011). "Origins of the Phrase". Political Correctness: A History of Semantics and Culture. John Wiley & Sons. "1975 – Peter Fuller". "ISBN "978-1444360295. 
  12. ^ a b Bellow, Allan Bloom ; foreword by Saul (1988). The closing of the American mind (1st Touchstone ed.). New York: Simon and Schuster. "ISBN "0671657151. 
  13. ^ a b Robinson, Sally (2000). Marked men white masculinity in crisis. New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 17, 55–86. "ISBN "023150036X. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f Wilson, John. 1995. The Myth of Political Correctness: The Conservative Attack on High Education. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press. p. 26
  15. ^ a b Kimball, Roger (1990). Tenured radicals : how politics has corrupted our higher education (1st ed.). New York: Harper & Row – Originally from The University of Michigan. "ISBN "0060161906. 
  16. ^ D'Souza, Dinesh (1991). Illiberal education : the politics of race and sex on campus. New York: Free Press. "ISBN "0684863847. Retrieved 20 November 2015. 
  17. ^ a b Bernstein, Richard (28 October 1990). "Ideas & Trends: The Rising Hegemony of the Politically Correct". The New York Times. 
  18. ^ a b McFadden, Robert D. (5 May 1991). "Political Correctness: New Bias Test?". The New York Times. 
  19. ^ a b Berman, edited by Paul (1992). Debating P.C. : the controversy over political correctness on college campuses. p. Introduction. "ISBN "0307801780. 
  20. ^ Heteren, Annette Gomis van (1997). Political correctness in context : the PC controversy in America. Almeria: Universidad de Almería, Servicio de Publicaciones. p. 148. "ISBN "8482400835. 
  21. ^ a b Smith, Dorothy E. (1999). Writing the social : critique, theory, and investigations (Repr. ed.). Toronto (Ont.): University of Toronto press. p. 175. "ISBN "0802081355. Retrieved 22 October 2015. 
  22. ^ a b Schwartz, Howard S. (1997). "Psychodynamics of Political Correctness". Journal of Applied Behavioral Science. 33 (2): 133–49. Retrieved 21 October 2015. 
  23. ^ a b Messer-Davidow, Ellen (1995). "Manufacturing the Attack on Liberalized Higher Education: The Humanities and Society in the 1990s". 
  24. ^ a b c Mink, Eric. "Trump's Political-Correctness Con Job". huffingtonpost.com. Huffington Post. Retrieved 8 November 2016. 
  25. ^ a b "Conservative Correctness" chapter, in Wilson, John. 1995. The Myth of Political Correctness: The Conservative Attack on Higher Education. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press. p. 57
  26. ^ a b c "Don Williams comments – Dixie Chicks Were Right". Retrieved 20 May 2017. 
  27. ^ a b Krugman, Paul (26 May 2012). "The New Political Correctness". New York Times. Retrieved 17 February 2013. 
  28. ^ Kaufman, Scott Barry (November 20, 2016). "The Personality of Political Correctness; The idea of political correctness is central to the culture wars of American politics". blogs.scientificamerican.com. "Scientific American. Retrieved December 2, 2016. 
  29. ^ Associate Justice "James Wilson, of the U.S. Supreme Court comments: "The states, rather than the People, for whose sakes the States exist, are frequently the objects which attract and arrest our principal attention... Sentiments and expressions of this inaccurate kind prevail in our common, even in our convivial, language. Is a toast asked? 'The United States', instead of the 'People of the United States', is the toast given. This is not politically correct." Chisholm v. Georgia, 2 U.S. (2 Dall.) 419 (1793) Findlaw.com – Accessed 6 February 2007.
  30. ^ For two examples see:
    • 18 August 1804. "(London) Courier". p. 2. In your paper on Monday [...] you offered some observations to your readers which were evidently well-meant though they were not politically correct 
    • "Australian Mail And New Zealand Express". newspaperarchive.com. 15 June 1861. Retrieved 29 November 2015. For to call it " a new colony " is only politically correct – the stress should be laid on the word "colony". 
  31. ^ "Safire, William (2008). Safire's political dictionary (Rev. ed.). New York [u.a.]: Oxford Univ. Press. "ISBN "0195343344. 
  32. ^ a b c Ruth Perry, (1992), "A Short History of the Term 'Politically Correct'", in Beyond PC: Toward a Politics of Understanding, by Patricia Aufderheide, 1992, "ISBN "978-1555971649
  33. ^ Schultz citing Perry (1992) p. 16
  34. ^ Joel Bleifuss (February 2007). "A Politically Correct Lexicon". In These Times. 
  35. ^ Ellen Willis, "Toward a Feminist Revolution", in No More Nice Girls: Countercultural Essays (1992) Wesleyan University Press, "ISBN "081955250X, p. 19.
  36. ^ "Hall, Stuart (1994). "Some 'Politically Incorrect' Pathways Through PC" (PDf). S. Dunant (ed.) The War of the Words: The Political Correctness Debate. pp. 164–84. 
  37. ^ Kamiya, Gary (22 January 1995). "Civilization & Its Discontents". The Examiner Magazine. Retrieved 16 November 2015. 
  38. ^ a b Williams, Jeffrey (2013). PC Wars: Politics and Theory in the Academy. Routledge. p. 11. "ISBN "1136656235. Retrieved 28 October 2015. 
  39. ^ Gamson, Z.F. (1997). "The Stratification of the Academy". Academic Labor – Duke University Press. 51 (51): 67–73. "doi:10.2307/466647. "JSTOR 466647. 
  40. ^ Platt, Tony. "Desegregating Multiculturalism: Problems in the Theory and Pedagogy of Diversity Education" (PDF). Pedagogies for Social Change. 29 (4 (90)). Retrieved 28 October 2015. 
  41. ^ a b Valdes, edited by Francisco; Culp, Jerome McCristal; Harris, Angela P. (2002). Crossroads, directions, and a new critical race theory. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. pp. 59, 65. "ISBN "1566399300. 
  42. ^ Anthony Browne (2006). "The Retreat of Reason: Political Correctness and the Corruption of Public Debate in Modern Britain Archived 3 May 2014 at the "Wayback Machine.". Civitas. "ISBN "1903386500
  43. ^ Cho, Sumi (1997). "Essential Politics". Harvard Lat. Law Review. 433. 
  44. ^ D'Souza 1991; Berman 1992; Schultz 1993; Messer Davidow 1993, 1994; Scatamburlo 1998
  45. ^ See:
  46. ^ In The New York Times newspaper article "The Rising Hegemony of the Politically Correct", the reporter "Richard Bernstein said that:

    The term "politically correct", with its suggestion of Stalinist orthodoxy, is spoken more with irony and disapproval than with reverence. But, across the country the term "P.C.", as it is commonly abbreviated, is being heard more and more in debates over what should be taught at the universities.

    — The Rising Hegemony of the Politically Correct, NYT (28 October 1990) Bernstein, Richard (28 October 1990). "Ideas & Trends: The Rising Hegemony of the Politically Correct". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
    Bernstein also reported about a meeting of the Western Humanities Conference in Berkeley, California, on the subject of "Political Correctness" and Cultural Studies that examined "what effect the pressure to conform to currently fashionable ideas is having on scholarship". Western Humanities Conference Archived 15 December 2012 at "Archive.is
  47. ^ Cultural Sensitivity and Political Correctness: The Linguistic Problem of Naming, Edna Andrews, American Speech, Vol. 71, No. 4 (Winter, 1996), pp. 389–404.
  48. ^ For commentary see:
    • Lauter, Paul (1993). "'Political Correctness' and the Attack on American Colleges". 
    • Stimpson, Catharine R. (29 May 1991). "New 'Politically Correct' Metaphors Insult History and Our Campuses". 
    • James, Axtell (1998). The Pleasures of Academe: A Celebration & Defense of Higher Education. 
    • Scatamburlo, Valerie L. (1998). Soldiers of Misfortune: The New Right's Culture War and the Politics of Political Correctness. 
    • Glassner, Barry (5 January 2010). The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things: Crime, Drugs, Minorities, Teen Moms, Killer Kids, Mutant Microbes, Plane Crashes, Road Rage, & So Much More. 
  49. ^ Tomlinson, Sally (2008). Race and education : policy and politics in Britain ([Online-Ausg.]. ed.). Maidenhead [u.a]: Open Univ. Press. p. 161. "ISBN "0335223079. 
  50. ^ Dekker, Teun J. (2013). Paying Our High Public Officials: Evaluating the Political Justifications of Top Wages in the Public Sector. Routledge Research in Public Administration and Public Policy. p. 119. "ISBN "1135131260. 
  51. ^ For Polly Toynbee see:
  52. ^ Regarding Will Hutton see:
  53. ^ "Loury, G. C. (1 October 1994). "Self-Censorship in Public Discourse: A Theory of "Political Correctness" and Related Phenomena" (PDF). Rationality and Society. 6 (4): 428–61. "doi:10.1177/1043463194006004002. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 November 2015. Retrieved 28 October 2015. 
  54. ^ Lea, John (2010). Political Correctness and Higher Education: British and American Perspectives. Routledge. "ISBN "1135895880. Retrieved 28 October 2015. 
  55. ^ McGowan, William (2003). Coloring the news : how political correctness has corrupted American journalism ([New postscript]. ed.). San Francisco, Calif.: Encounter Books. "ISBN "1893554600. 
  56. ^ See:
  57. ^ Sloan, David; Hoff, Emily (1998). Contemporary media issues. Northport: Vision Press – Indiana University. p. 63. "ISBN "1885219105. Retrieved 28 October 2015. 
  58. ^ a b Pinta, Jessica; Yakubu, Joy (2014). "Language Use and Political Correctness for Peaceful Coexistence: Implications for Sustainable Development". Journal of Educational and Social Research. 4 (5). Retrieved 28 October 2015. 
  59. ^ Kors, A. C.; Silverglate, H (November 1998). "Codes of silence – who's silencing free speech on campus – and why". Reason Magazine. Archived from the original on 3 August 2004. Retrieved 20 August 2015. 
  60. ^ "Leo, John (Winter 2007). "Free Inquiry? Not on Campus". "City Journal. "Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. Retrieved 25 March 2008. 
  61. ^ Hess, Frederick M.; Maranto, Robert; Redding, Richard E. (2009). The politically correct university : problems, scope, and reforms. Washington, D.C.: AEI Press. "ISBN "0844743178. 
  62. ^ Cummings, Michael S. (2001). Beyond political correctness : social transformation in the United States. Boulder, Colo: Lynne Rienner Publishers. p. 4. "ISBN "1588260062. Retrieved 28 October 2015. 
  63. ^ Bethell, Tom (2005). The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science. Washington, D.C: Regnery Publishing. "ISBN "089526031X. 
  64. ^ Robert V. Blanden; Steele, Edward David; Lindley, Robyn A. (1999). Lamarck’s Signature: How Retrogenes are Changing Darwin's Natural Selection Paradigm. Reading, Mass: Perseus Books. "ISBN "0738201715. 
  65. ^ Adams, Joshua (June 12, 2017). "Time for equal media treatment of 'political correctness'". cjr.org. Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved June 15, 2017. 
  66. ^ For commentators see:
  67. ^ Regarding the Dixie Chicks:
  68. ^ Regarding the fries and toast, see:
  69. ^ "The New Political Correctness: Speech By Mark Latham [26 August 2002]". Australianpolitics.com. Retrieved 1 June 2009. 
  70. ^ For polling information see:
  71. ^ Regarding Pence and Trump see:
  72. ^ For Chrissy Teigen see:
  73. ^ Nowrasteh, Alex (December 7, 2016). "The right has its own version of political correctness. It's just as stifling". The Washington Post. Retrieved 19 December 2016. 
  74. ^ a b Lind, Dara (November 21, 2016). "Donald Trump's feud with the cast of Hamilton, explained". Vox. Retrieved 19 December 2016. 
  75. ^ Geraghty, Jim (December 12, 2016). "There Is No Right-Wing Equivalent to Political Correctness". National Review. Retrieved 19 December 2016. 
  76. ^ Swaim, Barton. "Donald Trump tries to kill political correctness – and ends up saving it". washingtonpost.com. Washington Post. Retrieved 8 November 2016. 
  77. ^ Weigel, Moira (November 30, 2016). "Political correctness: how the right invented a phantom enemy". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 December 2016. 
  78. ^ Lind, Dara. "Donald Trump shows the opposite of "political correctness" isn't free speech. It's just different repression". vox.com. Vox. Retrieved 8 November 2016. 
  79. ^ Roy, Jessica (16 November 2016). "Analysis 'Cuck,' 'snowflake,' 'masculinist': A guide to the language of the 'alt-right'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 1 January 2017. Political correctness: Anything that challenges an alt-right person's right to say whatever they want, whenever they want, in any way they want to say it. According to the alt-right, political correctness is responsible for most of society's ills, including feminism, Islamic terrorism and overly liberal college campuses. 
  80. ^ For Cultural Marxism, see:
  81. ^ "Jay, Martin (2010), "Dialectic of Counter-Enlightenment: The Frankfurt School as Scapegoat of the Lunatic Fringe". "Salmagundi (Fall 2010–Winter 2011, 168–69): 30–40.
  82. ^ Buchanan, Patrick. The Death of the West, p. 89
  83. ^ Wilson, John. 1995. The Myth of Political Correctness: The Conservative Attack on High Education. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press. p. 7 "ISBN "978-0822317135
  84. ^ Blair, Alexandra (7 March 2006). "Why black sheep are barred and Humpty can't be cracked". The Times. London. Retrieved 5 October 2007. 
  85. ^ "Nursery opts for 'rainbow' sheep". BBC News. 7 March 2006. Retrieved 6 October 2007. 
  86. ^ "Teen Ink – Bah, Bah, Rainbow Sheep". Archived from the original on 27 December 2007. Retrieved 6 October 2007. 
  87. ^ "Obsolete: Baa Baa Rainbow Bollocks". Retrieved 6 October 2007. 
  88. ^ "TidBits: The PC Manifesto". Fiction.net. Retrieved 1 June 2009. 
  89. ^ "Book – Buy Now". Capc.co.uk. Archived from the original on 30 May 2009. Retrieved 1 June 2009. 
  90. ^ Anderson, Brian C. (Autumn 2003). "We're Not Losing the Culture Wars Anymore". Retrieved 9 November 2007. 
  91. ^ For South Park's usage see:
  92. ^ For Colbert's usage see:
  93. ^ Graham Good (2001). Humanism Betrayed: Theory, Ideology and Culture in the Contemporary University. McGill-Queen's Press – MQUP. p. 9. "ISBN "9780773521872. 
  94. ^ For information on Hong Kong see:
  95. ^ Siu-kai, edited by Lau (2002). The first Tung Chee-hwa administration : the first five years of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press. p. 298. "ISBN "962996015X. Retrieved 28 October 2015. 
  96. ^ Philippa Hunter and Paul Keown, "The New Zealand social studies curriculum struggle 1993–1997: An 'insider' analysis." Waikato Journal of Education (2001) 7:55–72
  97. ^ R. Openshaw, Citizen who? The debate over economic and political correctness in the social studies curriculum in P. Benson, & R. Openshaw, eds., New Horizons for New Zealand Social Studies (Palmerston North: ERDC Press, 1998).
  98. ^ Catt, Mary (4 November 2014). "PC workplace boosts creativity in male-female teams". "Cornell Chronicle. Cornell.edu. Retrieved 19 March 2016. 
  99. ^ Christine Brophy, Jordan Peterson, Nicholas Rule "Political Correctness: Social-fiscal Liberalism and Left-wing Authoritarianism", accessed 03/12/17
  100. ^ Christine Brophy, Jordan Peterson, Nicholas Rule "Political Correctness: Social-fiscal Liberalism and Left-wing Authoritarianism", accessed 03/12/17
  101. ^ Johnson, Stephen Psychology Tells Us There Are 2 Kinds of Politically Correct People", accessed 03/12/17
  102. ^ Kaufman, Scott "The Personality of Political Correctness", accessed 03/12/17
  103. ^ Johnson, Stephen Psychology Tells Us There Are 2 Kinds of Politically Correct People", accessed 03/12/17
  104. ^ Kaufman, Scott "The Personality of Political Correctness", accessed 03/12/17
  105. ^ Regarding Stephen Morris see:

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