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Gender affects semantic competition : the effect of gender in a non-gender-marking language

Fukumura, Kumiko and Hyönä, Jukka and Scholfield, Merete (2013) Gender affects semantic competition : the effect of gender in a non-gender-marking language. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 39 (4). pp. 1012-1021.

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Abstract

English speakers tend to produce fewer pronouns when a referential competitor has the same gender as the referent than otherwise. Traditionally, this gender congruence effect has been explained in terms of ambiguity avoidance (e.g., Arnold, Eisenband, Brown-Schmidt, & Trueswell, 2000; Fukumura, Van Gompel, & Pickering, 2010). However, an alternative hypothesis is that the competitor’s gender congruence affects semantic competition, making the referent less accessible relative to when the competitor has a different gender (Arnold & Griffin, 2007). Experiment 1 found that even in Finnish, which is a non-gendered language, the competitor’s gender congruence results in fewer pronouns, supporting the semantic competition account. In Experiment 2, Finnish native speakers took part in an English version of the same experiment. The effect of gender congruence was larger in Experiment 2 than in Experiment 1, suggesting that the presence of a same-gender competitor resulted in a larger reduction in pronoun use in English than in Finnish. In contrast, other non-linguistic similarity had similar effects in both experiments. This indicated that the effect of gender congruence in English is not entirely driven by semantic competition: Speakers also avoid gender-ambiguous pronouns.

Item type: Article
ID code: 42007
Keywords: reference, language production, gender, ambiguity, pronoun, semantic competition , effect of gender , non-gender marking language, Psychology, Psychology(all)
Subjects: Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > Psychology
Department: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (HaSS) > School of Psychological Science and Health > Psychology
Depositing user: Pure Administrator
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2012 10:00
Last modified: 27 Mar 2015 03:38
URI: http://strathprints.strath.ac.uk/id/eprint/42007

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