Two sequential studies were conducted to examine the suitability of quantitative linguistic analysis for the study of attitudes. Attitudes of nursing personnel toward death and the care of dying patients were examined unobtrusively by observing changes in selected linguistic behaviors. Avoidance was defined as the substitution of a pronoun for a negatively affected noun. Both studies supported the hypotheses that the use of the pronoun it would be greater in death-related than in non-death-related responses (ps<.01). The initial study demonstrated that general pronoun usage was also increased in selected death-related response categories (p<.01), but this finding may have been related to more standard pronoun usage in English rather than to use as a substitute for purposes of avoidance. The inference of increased use of it as a substitute for negatively affected nouns was substantiated by a review of it-referents for a segment of the data. The scientific and clinical implications of these findings are discussed.