11.09.2023 | FB02 | Publikation

Glim, Sarah, Anita Körner, Holden Härtl & Ralf Rummer (2023): Early ERP Indices of Gender-Biased Processing Elicited by Generic Masculine Role Nouns and the Feminine–Masculine Pair Form. Brain and Language 242.


In most gender-marked languages, the masculine form is used to refer to male people specifically as well as to people of any gender generically. This dual functionality was shown in behavioral studies to lead to male-biased mental representations. Here, using EEG, we targeted the neurophysiological basis of this bias by investigating whether and how the generic masculine influences the early perceptual and cognitive processing of anaphoric references to men and women. We found that ERP amplitudes in the P200 range were larger for references to women than to men after generic masculine role nouns, while amplitudes in the P300 range were larger for references to men than to women after the feminine-masculine pair form. These findings suggest that the generic masculine primes the perceptual system towards processing men and that neither this form nor the feminine-masculine pair form elicits gender-balanced computations during early processing in the human brain.

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