New arguments in favour of an automatic gender pronominal process

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Abstract:

This paper examines the automatic and strategic use of gender information in pronominal processing. Experiments 1 and 2 used short sentences where a pronoun was preceded by two potential antecedents. Results showed that even when adult readers did not use pronominal gender to strategically accelerate pronominal resolution, they remained sensitive to a gender disagreement between the pronoun and its potential referents. This gender sensitivity was further explored in Experiments 3 and 4. These experiments used longer texts where only one of the two potential referents was highly accessible when the pronoun was encountered. A gender disagreement between the pronoun and this antecedent induced longer reading times. The four experiments confirm the existence of a nonstrategic gender coindexation process between a pronoun and the entity in the focus of a discourse.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02724980343000549

Affiliations: 1: Université de Poitiers Poitiers France 2: Massachusetts General Hospital Boston MA USA

Publication date: July 1, 2004

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