Processing definitional and stereotypical gender in reference resolution: evidence from eye-movements

Kreiner, H., Sturt, P. and Garrod, S. (2008) Processing definitional and stereotypical gender in reference resolution: evidence from eye-movements. Journal of Memory and Language, 58(2), pp. 239-261. (doi:10.1016/j.jml.2007.09.003)

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Readers immediately slow down when an anaphor (e.g. herself) refers to an antecedent that mismatches in stereotypical gender (e.g. minister). The mismatch-cost has been attributed to a clash between the gender of the pronoun and the gender associated with the stereotypical role noun. However, the nature of such stereotypical gender is still controversial; according to the mental models approach it is inferred from world knowledge, while according to a lexical view it is stored as part of the lexical representation. We report two eye-tracking experiments designed to investigate the processing of stereotypical gender. In these experiments stereotypical nouns (e.g. minister) are contrasted with definitional nouns (e.g. king) in which gender information is part of the definition of the word. Experiment 1 shows that in anaphora sentences, where the role noun is presented earlier than the reflexive that conveys gender information, stereotypical and definitional gender nouns lead to a similar mismatch-cost. Experiment 2 shows that in cataphora sentences, where the reflexive precedes the stereotypical noun, a mismatch-cost is exhibited only for definitional gender nouns. These results indicate that stereotypical gender can be overridden when gender is specified by prior discourse, unlike lexically defined gender. We discuss the differences between these noun types and their implications for the representation and processing of stereotypical gender.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Kreiner, Dr Hamutal and Garrod, Professor Simon
Authors: Kreiner, H., Sturt, P., and Garrod, S.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Psychology
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology
Journal Name:Journal of Memory and Language

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
438041Gender processing of lexically specified vs stereotypical nouns - an EEG studySimon GarrodEconomic & Social Research Council (ESRC)ES/E006965/1Cognitive Neuroimaging & Neuroengineering Technologies