Sex Roles

, Volume 14, Issue 3–4, pp 149–161 | Cite as

Impression formation as a function of the sex role appropriateness of linguistic behavior

  • Jeffrey Lee Rasmussen
  • Barbara E. Moely


Differences between perceptions of men's and women's language were investigated. Undergraduates (64 male, 64 female) read 14 short stories with male or female speakers using seven categories of “male” and “female” language. Subjects then rated stimulus persons on 23 sex role related adjectives. Male language was rated as more masculine, less feminine, more “instrumental,” and less “socially positive” than female language. Effects were strongest for the categories of expletives and adjectives, followed by weaker effects for hedges and polite forms. Subjects rated males who spoke women's language as homosexual; they tended to rate females who spoke men's language as uppity. The results are discussed in terms of Robin Lakoff's hypotheses concerning linguistic sex differences and in terms of inrole vs out-of-role behavior.


Social Psychology Rate Female Weak Effect Short Story Impression Formation 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffrey Lee Rasmussen
    • 1
  • Barbara E. Moely
    • 1
  1. 1.Tulane UniversityUSA

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