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The use of stereotypical gender information in constructing a mental model:evidence from English and Spanish

Carreiras, Manuel and Garnham, Alan and Oakhill, Jane and Cain, Kate (1996) The use of stereotypical gender information in constructing a mental model:evidence from English and Spanish. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Series a Human Experimental Psychology, 49 (3). pp. 639-663. ISSN 0272-4987

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Abstract

Four experiments were carried out to investigate how general knowledge about the stereotypical gender of participants in a text influences comprehension. A self-paced reading task was used to present short texts comprising one, two, or three sentences. The first sentence of each text introduced a stereotypically masculine or feminine participant (e.g. doctor, nurse), or a neutral one. The last sentence introduced a pronoun (he/she) that could match or mismatch the gender of the referent. The first experiment, which was carried out in English, showed that reading times for the last sentence were longer when there was a mismatch than when there was a match between the gender of the pronoun in the last sentence and the stereotypical gender of the referent in the first sentence. In contrast to English, the gender of the participant can be disambiguated by a preceding article (el/la) in Spanish. The results of the second, third, and fourth experiments, which were carried out in Spanish, showed that reading times for the first sentences were longer when there was a mismatch than when there was a match between the gender of the article and the stereotypical gender of the participant. However, reading times for the last sentences did not differ. Overall, the results suggest that information about the stereotypical gender of the participants in a text is incorporated into the representation as soon as it becomes available, and that it affects the ease with which the text is understood.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Series a Human Experimental Psychology
Subjects:
Departments: Faculty of Science and Technology > Psychology
ID Code: 72206
Deposited By: ep_importer_pure
Deposited On: 18 Dec 2014 09:35
Refereed?: Yes
Published?: Published
Last Modified: 19 Nov 2017 12:41
Identification Number:
URI: http://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/id/eprint/72206

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