Sex Roles

, Volume 22, Issue 1–2, pp 69–82

The impact of generic word choices: An empirical investigation of age- and sex-related differences

  • Jo Young Switzer

DOI: 10.1007/BF00288155

Cite this article as:
Switzer, J.Y. Sex Roles (1990) 22: 69. doi:10.1007/BF00288155


Previous studies of receivers' responses to generic words have found that adults generally develop masculine imagery for neutral words and that men do this more than women. The present investigation of school-aged children (n=471) found that they, like adults, develop sex-specific masculine imagery in response to apparently neutral messages. Early adolescents, however, reported significantly more inclusive imagery than 6–7-year-olds. Different pronoun conditions elicited different mental imagery for the receivers of the messages with “he/she” eliciting more of a balance between male and female images and “they” eliciting more inclusive imagery.

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jo Young Switzer
    • 1
  1. 1.Indiana University—Purdue University at Fort WayneUSA

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