News and Commentary

University Screens Psychology Students On Their Opinion Of Jordan Peterson; Peterson Responds

In a question for a survey conducted by the University of British Columbia’s psychology department, students are asked about their opinion of Dr. Jordan Peterson’s refusal to use alternative pronouns.

The Human Subject Pool pre-screening survey is designed to help the department conduct psychological research on various topics, UCB Psychology Professor Steve Heine explained to The Daily Wire. The survey is given to students who hope to “gain firsthand knowledge and experience with how research is conducted and to contribute to ongoing departmental research,” said Heine.

But one question in the survey stands out among the others because of its specific focus on one famous individual.

“There is currently a debate about whether universities should require their staff to use alternative pronouns (Zie, Ey) for students who say that ‘he/she’ pronouns do not represent them,” the question reads. “People who agree with the requirement believe that using people’s preferred pronouns respects their human rights. People who disagree with the requirement believe that it infringes upon their right to free speech.”

The question then turns personal: “Jordan Peterson, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto, is refusing to use alternate pronouns.” The survey then asks students to “rate their agreement or disagreement” with the statement “Jordan Peterson should be required by his university to use alternate pronouns to address students.”

The survey adds, “There are no correct or incorrect answers. We are interested in your personal opinion.”

Students are then given eight options including that they wish to not provide an answer.

According to Heine, Peterson is the only individual mentioned in the survey by name.

“At the beginning of the term, students are invited to complete a prescreening survey which consists of approximately 200 items. There are a wide variety of different questions on this survey, and these have a number of different purposes: some questions are included so researchers can identify potential participants for their studies (e.g., a study may be looking for people with experience with certain languages); some questions are included so that researchers can identify how people’s answers may change in reaction to certain procedures in the experiments; and some questions are included so that researchers can study how their responses predict their behavior during later studies.”

On the specific question, Heine said it was “one of multiple questions that are designed to assess students’ opinion about current events that they are likely to have heard about, and likely to have formed opinions about.” He also said that the information was used to “study how people’s existing opinions about an issue influence how they process and react to new information about that issue (for example, a video from the evening news, or a newspaper article about the topic, that they might watch or read during the experiment).”

“The question in no way alters a student’s ability to be part of the HSP,” he underscored. “It is simply one of multiple questions that is designed to assess students’ socio-political attitudes and their opinions about a range of current events [sic]. It is being used for a research study about how people’s existing opinions about an issue (which is what is being measured in the HSP survey) influence how they process new information about that issue.”

He added: “UBC encourages students, faculty and staff to address one another in the way they wish to be addressed.”

Peterson jokingly responded to the question: “Doesn’t this in itself constitute research?” he tweeted.