Gender markedness of language: The impact of grammatical and nonlinguistic information on the mental representation of person information

In: Journal of language and social psychology, Jg. 23 (2004) ; Nr. 3, S. 272-307
ISSN: 0261-927X
Zeitschriftenaufsatz / Fach: Psychologie
Three experiments investigated how grammatical gender and gender stereotypicality influence the way person information is mentally represented. Participants read sentences about social groups denoted by nouns with different grammatical gender and stereotypicality. A following sentence contained a reference to the social group that qualified the group members as female, male, or neither one. Experiment 1 tested grammatically masculine nouns; Experiment 2 tested gender-balanced forms, composed of the masculine and the feminine or neither one; and Experiment 3 tested nouns without gender inflection. Stereotypicality varied within studies. Second sentence reading times differed depending on the fit between grammatical gender and stereotypicality of the first sentence’s subject and the subsequent information’s gender-relatedness. Both grammatical gender and stereotypicality contribute biological gender information to mentally represented person information. Strong grammatical input may override stereotypicality’s influence. The feminine’s influence seems to be weaker than the masculine’s. Results are discussed in the framework of the scenario mapping and focus approach.