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Gender representations in Language: A project on the interaction of the generic masculine and stereotypical information in constructing a mental representation of gender

Applicant Gygax Pascal
Number 118301
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Département de Psychologie Université de Fribourg
Institution of higher education University of Fribourg - FR
Main discipline Psychology
Start/End 01.11.2007 - 31.10.2008
Approved amount 87'517.00
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Keywords (6)

Inferences; Gender; Stereotypes; Language; Social psychology; Cognitive psychology

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
In gender marked languages, such as French and German, the masculine form is used to refer to several persons of both sexes or to persons ofindefinite or irrelevant sex. This is known as the generic masculine. In essence, this generic masculine should be used in a gender neutral way. However, on the assumption that language influences cognition, or more specifically thought, it is doubtful that the masculine form can be used in a non-gender-specific way.
Grounded in both social psychological and psycholinguistic concepts, this project investigates people’s automatic construction of a gender representation based on the generic masculine and on gender stereotypical information. This project, focused on role names, evaluates the interaction between potential biases accompanying the use of the generic masculine and biases due to stereotypical information. Through two experiments, conducted in German, French and English (in collaboration with the University of Sussex), the project attempts to shed light on the interplay of both grammatical information (the generic masculine) and context information (gender stereotypical information), on gender representation. Thus, this project aims to provide empirical and theoretical arguments on the notion that language, through the use of the generic masculine, as well as stereotypical information, discriminates against women.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
124624 Gender representation in language: Learning to interpret the masculine form as generic 01.09.2009 Project funding (Div. I-III)
109705 Gender Representations in Language: A project on the Interaction of the Generic Masculine and Stereotypical Information in Constructing a Mental Representation of Gender 01.11.2005 Project funding (Div. I-III)
188841 Vocational aspirations and gender: Fighting the normative impact of language and stereotypes 01.09.2020 Project funding (Div. I-III)
120634 Emotion Inferences and Text Comprehension: A project on the complexity of emotion inferences made during reading 01.09.2008 Project funding (Div. I-III)
135271 Gender representation in language: The onset of grammar-stereotype interplay in toddlerhood 01.07.2011 Project funding (Div. I-III)