Differential sensitivity to the gender of a person by English and Chinese speakers

J Psycholinguist Res. 2011 Jun;40(3):195-203. doi: 10.1007/s10936-010-9164-9.


Can a linguistic device of a language orient its speakers to a particular aspect of the world and result in increased sensitivity to that aspect? The question was examined with respect to the biological gender marker in English and the lack of it in Chinese. In Experiment 1, English and Chinese participants listened to stories and answered gender and non-gender related questions immediately after. It was found that, relative to the non-gender-related questions, the English participants were much faster and more accurate than the Chinese participants in answering the gender-related questions. In Experiment 2, English and Chinese participants were asked to determine which of two pictures matched the sentence shown immediately before. Relative to the non-gender-related sentences, the English participants were less slower and more accurate than the Chinese participants in responding to the gender-related sentences. The findings support the view that language can have an effect on information processing in human cognition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Asians
  • Cognition*
  • Humans
  • Language*
  • Linguistics
  • Sex Factors
  • Whites