How gender-expectancy affects the processing of “them”

Journal article

Doherty, Alice and Conklin, Kathy 2016. How gender-expectancy affects the processing of “them”. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.
AuthorsDoherty, Alice and Conklin, Kathy

How sensitive is pronoun processing to expectancies based on real-world knowledge and language usage? The current study links research on the integration of gender stereotypes and number-mismatch to explore this question. It focuses on the use of them to refer to antecedents of different levels of gender-expectancy (low–cyclist, high–mechanic, known–spokeswoman). In a rating task, them is considered increasingly unnatural with greater gender-expectancy. However, participants might not be able to differentiate high-expectancy and gender-known antecedents online because they initially search for plural antecedents (e.g., Sanford & Filik), and they make all-or-nothing gender inferences. An eye-tracking study reveals early differences in the processing of them with antecedents of high gender-expectancy compared with gender-known antecedents. This suggests that participants have rapid access to the expected gender of the antecedent and the level of that expectancy.

KeywordsPronoun; Number agreement; Gender; Language
JournalThe Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Web address (URL)
Publication dates15 Mar 2016
Publication process dates
Deposited03 Apr 2017, 08:40

Archived with thanks to The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology

ContributorsUniversity of Derby and University of Nottingham
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