Principal investigator and team

The magic effect of grammatical gender: Pervasive behavioural and neural effect in language processing.

Grammatical gender is an intrinsic feature of nouns which plays a central role during language processing and production of gendered languages. Still, the prevalence of effects related to gender seems to depend on certain language specificities and can vary for different speakers profiles. In this project, we attempt at identifying the language features that release the gender-congruency effect, characterized by a facilitation in the activation of words matching in grammatical gender. To this aim, we will explore the comprehension and production of grammatical gendered words, varying the degree of semantic information related with gender (arbitrary gender assignment, biological sex, gender stereotype) and the role of the masculine gender as the generic including male and female referents. Moreover, to study the prevalence of the gender-congruency effect in different languages, we will compare monolingual and bilingual speakers; thus, we will select participants with different native languages (Spanish, Italian, and English) that will perform the task in Spanish. Additionally, to explore the impact of grammatical gender feature at socio-cultural levels, we will investigate if the prevalence of the gender-congruency effect and its asymmetry related to the generic masculine vary according to speakers biological sex, gender-role, gender-related beliefs, and the daily use of gender-fair language. We will combine behavioral, electrophysiological, and questionnaire data to create an integrated view of the role of grammatical gender during language comprehension and production. The results of this project will have direct implications in the constitution of language, cognitive, and social models by accounting for the relevance of the grammatical gender feature. The findings will also improve second language learning strategies by identifying the key aspects of gender activation. Moreover, our findings could be used to actualize the current guides of language use, accounting for a realistic understanding of the masculine generic.

Principal Investigators

Daniela Paolieri

Faculty and researchers

Alba Casado

Post-doc fellows


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Lines of research