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I'm currently writing a text and I want to explain that I conducted some tests to see how easy/difficult it is do perform a certain process. Therefore I want to write:

We now want to test how easy it is to [...]

or

We now want to test how difficult it is to [...]

Does either of those two sentences already imply a certain meaning towards the actual difficulty of the task? Or are they both equally neutrally usable?

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    I think that with “test” (or “determine”), the overall neutrality is maintained; with perhaps a slight bias towards the one you choose to use. With “show” or “exhibit,” however, the neutrality would all but disappear. Perhaps changing “test/determine how easy/difficult it is to” to “test/determine the amount of effort/time/calculations required to” would render it totally neutral.
    – Papa Poule
    Aug 26, 2015 at 17:13
  • @PapaPoule That is actually a nice idea. But to come back at the original question: From what I read in your comment it seems like there is in fact a small bias. Would a native speaker (actively) notice that?
    – user49819
    Aug 27, 2015 at 15:49
  • Just my opinion (native speaker),but w/out seeing "or not" ("how easy (difficult) OR NOT it is to..) then I'd TEND to think that (w/easy) you were trying to get me thinking that you are testing YOUR process & that it is going to be found to be easier than a competitor's; & w/difficult, that a competing process is being tested & that it will be found to be more difficult than yours. If for marketing I wouldn't worry about the slight bias (Id even encourage it);but if for a professional paper you could even flip the words to have the bias go AGAINST your process to avoid looking like a marketer.
    – Papa Poule
    Aug 27, 2015 at 16:39

2 Answers 2

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Use of either of the words (easy/difficult) has a normal tendency to drag the narrative that follows to its favour unless something diametrically opposed is told immediately afterwards. In the absence of the details of the test or its outcome, better it to say,

TESTS ARE CONDUCTED TO ASCERTAIN HOW THE PROCESS PERFORMS (BEHAVES).(what is the outcome)

It may be either way--easy/difficult. And neutrality is maintained.

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An easy way to maintain neutrality would be

We now want to test how easy or hard it is to [...]

(Note that easy comes before hard by convention, just as up comes before down.)

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