CFP: Slurs and Stereotypes

Call for Papers: Frontiers in Social Psychology

Research Topic: Slurs and Stereotypes

Dear colleagues,

Slurs have become a topic of great interest to scholars over the last 15 years. Slurs like the n-word are often considered the most offensive expressions in the English language, yet such slurs are also frequently picked up and appropriated by the very members that these slurs have traditionally been used to attack. Different slurs target members of different groups so slurs have a rich informational component, yet slurs are also clearly value-laden and have a rich affective component as well. Uses of slurs by out-group members towards target group members can produce depression and negative psychological outcomes in those targets, yet some uses of slurs among in-group members may be considered acts of solidarity that produce positive psychological outcomes. Given the diverse range of results about slurs from the extant literature, this research topic aims to advance our understanding about slurs from an interdisciplinary perspective. The purpose of this research topic is therefore to unite scholars from different fields and backgrounds in a single forum, so that we may offer our best insights and latest research on slurs to further advance this field in fruitful directions.

Questions we aim to investigate in this research topic include the following:

  • What contextual factors influence the perceived offensiveness of slurs?
  • What properties of speakers influence the perceived offensiveness of slurs?
  • What is the relationship between the semantics of slurs and the content of stereotypes? 
  • What are the different ways that slurs are used by in-group and out-group members?
  • What impact does being the target of a slur have on psychological processes?
  • How can we best model processes of slur-appropriation or reclamation?
  • What if any guidelines should be put in place to regulate the use of slurs on social media?
  • Which theory of slurs best accounts for all of the available data?

In addition to investigating questions such as these, this research topic is also interested in the following contributions:

  • Sociolinguistic research that offers insights about the influence of culture and society on slur-use and understanding.
  • Sociological research that offers insights about the influence of slur-use on society.
  • Philosophical research that provides arguments for or against particular views about slurs and stereotypes from the literature.
  • Corpus research that offers insights about slurs by analyzing large bodies of text.
  • Crowd-sourcing research that offers insights about slurs by analyzing data collected from participants using crowd-sourcing tools such as Amazon’s Mechanical Turk.
  • Computational research that offers insights about slurs by analyzing data collected from the web such as social media data.

These are just a few examples of the kind of research topics and methodologies of interest for this research topic, but other scholarly work on slurs and stereotypes will also be warmly received.

List of participating journals:

  • Frontiers in Social Psychology
  • Frontiers in Psychology: Language Sciences
  • Frontiers in Communication: Language Sciences


  • Slurs
  • Stereotypes
  • Semantics
  • Pragmatics
  • Emotions
  • Hate speech
  • Reclamation

Adam M. Croom, Ph.D.
Associate Editor, Frontiers in Social Psychology
Cognitive Science Program, UC Berkeley, Berkeley CA 94720