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Although psychologists have noted the importance of avoiding sexist language because of its potential role in transmitting sexism, little attention has been given to methods of teaching students of psychology to use nonsexist language. Two experiments were conducted to measure the effectiveness of teaching general Psychology students to use nonsexist language. In a pilot study (Experiment 1), undergraduates were exposed to a 20-minute lecture either on use of nonsexist language (experimental group) or on an unrelated topic (control group). No changes in use of sexist language in short essay responses were noted on the posttest or in a 2-week follow-up. In Experiment 2, the method of measuring sexist language was expanded by using three essay responses, and the procedure was repeated except that a second independent variable was added: Students were instructed either in lecture format or with an interactive computer program. The method of presentation showed no effect, but the group receiving training about nonsexist language used less sexist language on one of the three essay questions. Interpretations and implications of the findings are discussed.


Originally published in 1991, The Journal of Experimental Education, 59(2), 153-161.