Identifying Viewpoint and Bias

Recognising the Author’s Perspective

Every author has a unique perspective or stance on their subject matter, which can be influenced by their personal experiences, cultural background, education, beliefs and values. This viewpoint often shapes the way they present information or arguments.

An author who grew up in a rural farming community might have a different perspective on environmental issues compared to someone who spent their life in a busy city. Similarly, an author with a background in science might approach a topic like climate change differently than an author with a background in politics.

As you read, try to identify the author’s perspective. What is their stance on the subject matter? How might their background or beliefs influence this viewpoint?

Understanding Language, Tone and Rhetoric

The author’s viewpoint can often be revealed through their use of language, tone and rhetoric. 

  • Language – The choice of words an author uses can reveal a lot about their viewpoint. For example, an author who uses positive language to describe a particular group or idea likely views it favourably. In contrast, negative language might indicate disapproval or criticism. 
  • Tone – This refers to the author’s attitude or feelings towards the subject matter, which can be revealed through their writing style. A formal tone might suggest a serious or scholarly viewpoint, while a casual tone might suggest a more personal or conversational viewpoint.
  • Rhetoric – This refers to the techniques an author uses to persuade or influence readers. An author might use rhetorical questions, appeals to emotion, repetition or other rhetorical devices to argue their point. 

Pay attention to the author’s language and tone. Do they use neutral, objective language or do they use emotive, persuasive language? What rhetorical devices do they use to make their argument?

Identifying Bias

Bias refers to a lack of neutrality or an unfair preference for one side over another. An author might show bias by presenting only one side of an argument, ignoring counterarguments or using loaded language.

For example, in a newspaper editorial, the author might show bias by strongly advocating for a particular political policy without acknowledging any potential drawbacks. 

Be on the lookout for signs of bias. Does the author present all sides of an argument, or do they favour one side? Do they use loaded language that indicates a strong preference or prejudice?

Evaluating the Influence of Viewpoint and Bias

The author’s viewpoint and any potential bias can significantly influence the presentation of information or arguments in the text. They can shape what information is included or excluded, how arguments are framed and how evidence is interpreted.

Consider how the author’s viewpoint and bias might influence the text. How might they shape the presentation of information or arguments? How might they affect your understanding or interpretation of the text?