Sex Roles

, Volume 43, Issue 7–8, pp 481–497 | Cite as

Effects of Pronoun Type and Gender Role Consistency on Children's Recall and Interpretation of Stories

  • Lea Conkright
  • Dorothy Flannagan
  • James Dykes


The pronouns he, she, and they were compared with he and she alternating, to examine recall and gender interpretation of stories. Participants, who were ethnically diverse, were 48 girls and boys aged 6 and 9 from working-class and middle-class areas of San Antonio. Children read stories about imaginary characters of ambiguous gender referred to by varying pronouns and enjoying either stereotypically masculine, feminine, or neutral activities. Recall was higher for girls, older children, and children who heard stories containing she instead of he. Six-year-olds, but not 9-year-olds, recalled more information from stories containing gender-consistent activities. Interpretation of character gender for he, she, and he/she alternating was based largely on pronoun; for stories using they, it was based both on pronoun and activity. The results underscore the nongeneric nature of generic pronouns and the gender differences in recall and interpretation evoked by contact with gender specific reading material.


Gender Difference Social Psychology Gender Role Neutral Activity Reading Material 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lea Conkright
    • 1
  • Dorothy Flannagan
    • 1
  • James Dykes
    • 1
  1. 1.University of TexasSan Antonio

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