We don’t know the difference between envy and jealousy, race and ethnicity, and more
Americans don’t say what they mean.
A recent paper finds that Americans — even those with advanced degrees — often confuse commonly used psychological terms like race and ethnicity, envy and jealousy and more.
Ask yourself: “Is your shy new colleague antisocial or asocial? And which is worse: a prejudiced boss or a discriminatory one?,” the paper asks readers. If you can’t answer those questions, you’re like many of us, according to the paper, published in the journal Frontiers in Education, which identified 50 psychological terms that experts said were most commonly mixed up.
“Words matter,” concludes Scott O. Lilienfeld, professor of psychology at Emory University and one of the paper’s authors. He’s right. Employers consistently rank verbal communication as a top skill they want in job candidates. And even though psychological terms may not come up in a job interview, they often do at work (you’ve certainly heard terms like sex and gender, envy and jealousy, in the office, for example), and mixing them up might not do you any favors.
Here are a few psychological terms you might hear at work that people often mix up — but shouldn’t.
Race and ethnicity. A race is a group of people with common descent like African-Americans or Asians, while an ethnic group, meanwhile, is “a social group that shares a common and distinctive culture , religion, language or the like,” according to Dictionary.com.
Sex and gender. Sex typically refers to biological differences, while gender refers to social differences, according to the American Psychological Association.
Prejudice and discrimination. In the simplest terms, “prejudice refers to a belief, discrimination to a behavior,” the report notes. Specifically, prejudice means arriving at a premature – and usually negative – judgment of others based on their membership in one or more categories (e.g., African-American, Jew, obese, Republican), whereas discrimination refers to the act of treating others poorly as a function of this membership..”
Conformity and obedience. “Both terms refer to forms of social influence but differ in at least two ways,” the report notes. “In conformity, the direction of social influence is ‘horizontal’ from one or more peers to an individual, whereas in obedience the direction is “vertical” from one or more authority figures to an individual. Moreover, in conformity, the influence is typically implicit (unspoken), whereas in obedience, it is typically explicit.”
Envy and jealousy. “Envy and jealousy are so frequently confused … that few people are aware they differ,” the report notes. Merriam Webster offers a lengthy explanation of the two concluding that “while jealous may be used to mean both “covetous” and “possessively suspicious”, envious only comfortable in the first of those two senses.”
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