This article reports six experiments in which we explored whether gender stereotype information is typically invoked when certain role and profession terms are read and the extent to which the use of such information is under the reader’s strategic control. All of the experiments used a design in which subjects had to decide whether two terms (one an occupation and one a kinship term) could refer to the same person (e.g.,surgeon-brother orsurgeon—sister). The presentation conditions and the instructions were varied from experiment to experiment, to try to encourage the subjects to respond strategically and to suppress their use of gender stereotypes when responding. The results support not only the hypothesis that information about the stereotypical gender associated with occupations and roles is typically incorporated into the reader’s representation immediately, but also the hypothesis that such information is difficult or impossible to suppress. The implications of these findings for current theories of text processing and text representation are discussed.
Banaji, M. R., &Greenwald, A. G. (1995). Implicit gender stereotyping in judgments of fame. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology,68, 181–198.
Banaji, M. R., &Hardin, C. D. (1996). Automatic stereotyping.Psychological Science,7, 136–141.
Bransford, J. D., &Johnson, M. K. (1972). Contextual prerequisites for understanding: Some investigations of comprehension and recall.Journal of Verbal Learning & Verbal Behavior,11, 717–726.
Carreiras, M., Garnham, A., &Oakhill, J. V. (1993). The use of superficial and meaning-based representation in interpreting pronouns: Evidence from Spanish.European Journal of Cognitive Psychology,5, 93–116.
Carreiras, M., Garnham, A., Oakhill, J. V., &Cain, K. (1996). The use of stereotypical gender information in constructing a mental model: Evidence from English and Spanish.Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology,49A, 639–663.
Chang, F. R. (1980). Active memory processes in visual sentence comprehension: Clause effects and pronominal reference.Memory & Cognition,8, 58–64.
Duffy, S. A., &Keir, J. A. (2004). Violating stereotypes: Eye movements and comprehension processes when text conflicts with world knowledge.Memory & Cognition,32, 551–559.
Garnham, A. (1987).Mental models as representations of discourse and text. Chichester, U.K.: Ellis Horwood.
Garnham, A., &Oakhill, J. V. (1985). On-line resolution of anaphoric pronouns: Effects of inference making and verb semantics.British Journal of Psychology,76, 385–393.
Garnham, A., Oakhill, J. V., Ehrlich, M. F., &Carreiras, M. (1995). Representations and processes in the interpretation of pronouns: New evidence from Spanish and French.Journal of Memory & Language,34, 41–62.
Gernsbacher, M. A. (1989). Mechanisms that improve referential access.Cognition,32, 99–156.
Glenberg, A. M., Meyer, M., &Lindem, K. (1987). Mental models contribute to foregrounding during text comprehension.Journal of Memory & Language,26, 69–83.
Johnson-Laird, P. N. (1983).Mental models: Towards a cognitive science of language, inference, and consciousness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kerr, J. S., &Underwood, G. (1984). Fixation time on anaphoric pronouns decreases with congruity of reference. In A. G. Gale & F. Johnson (Eds.),Theoretical and applied aspects of eye movement Research (pp. 110–136). Amsterdam: Elsevier.
Osterhout, L., Bersick, M., &McLaughlin, J. (1997). Brain potentials reflect violations of gender stereotypes.Memory & Cognition,25, 273–285.
Reynolds, D., Garnham, A., & Oakhill, J. V. (in press). Evidence of immediate activation of gender information from a social role name. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology: A.
Sanford, A. J. (1985).Cognition and cognitive psychology. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.
This research was supported by ESRC Grant R000 236481 (Mental models in text comprehension: Constraints on inference) to the first two authors.
About this article
Cite this article
Oakhill, J., Garnham, A. & Reynolds, D. Immediate activation of stereotypical gender information. Memory & Cognition 33, 972–983 (2005). https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03193206
- Gender Stereotype
- Incongruent Condition
- Congruency Condition
- Kinship Term
- Gender Information