Processing grammatical gender of role nouns: Further evidence from eye-movements.

In: Journal of cognitive psychology, Jg. 23 (2011) ; Nr. 8, S. 998-1014
ISSN: 2044-5911
Zeitschriftenaufsatz / Fach: Psychologie
Two eye-tracking experiments investigated the effects of masculine versus feminine grammatical gender on the processing of role nouns and on establishing coreference relations. Participants read sentences with the basic structure My <kinship term> is a <role noun> <prepositional phrase > such as My brother is a singer in a band. Role nouns were either masculine or feminine. Kinship terms were lexically male or female and in this way specified referent gender, i.e., the sex of the person referred to. Experiment 1 tested a fully crossed design including items with an incorrect combination of lexically male kinship term and feminine role name. Experiment 2 tested only correct combinations of grammatical and lexical/referential gender to control for possible effects of the incorrect items of Experiment 1. In early stages of processing, feminine role nouns, but not masculine ones, were fixated longer when grammatical and referential gender were contradictory (Bruder male–Sängerin fem/brother–[female] singer). In later stages of sentence wrap-up there were longer fixations for sentences with masculine than for those with feminine role nouns. Results of both experiments indicate that, for feminine role nouns, cues to referent gender are integrated immediately, whereas a late integration obtains for masculine forms.