Faculté des lettres

Fostering the generic interpretation of grammatically masculine forms: When my aunt could be one of the mechanics.

Lévy, Arik ; Gygax, Pascal ; Gabriel, Ute

The masculine plural form in French (e.g., musiciens [musicians]), as in other grammatical gender languages, though interpretable as a generic form (e.g., musicians are men and women), has been shown to more likely activate a specific interpretation (e.g., musicians are mainly men). In this study, we presented participants with female or male kinship – role noun word-pairs (e.g., oncle or tante... Plus

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    Summary
    The masculine plural form in French (e.g., musiciens [musicians]), as in other grammatical gender languages, though interpretable as a generic form (e.g., musicians are men and women), has been shown to more likely activate a specific interpretation (e.g., musicians are mainly men). In this study, we presented participants with female or male kinship – role noun word-pairs (e.g., oncle or tante – musiciens [uncle or aunt – musicians]) and asked them if the person represented by the kinship term could be part of the group represented by the role noun. Most importantly, within the experiment, we gradually increased participants’ exposure to pairs including a female kinship. We found that our exposure manipulation did increase readers’ general acceptance of female kinship – role noun word-pairs, supporting the idea that implicit exposure to particular stimuli might be quite effective in changing associated representations.