2005 Student Research Conference:
18th Annual Student Research Conference

Language & Literature

The Role of Gender in Lexical Disambiguation of Unprimed, Visual Stimuli
Corie A. Bednar
Dr. Mary Shapiro, Faculty Mentor

Past research in the area of lexical disambiguation has dealt primarily with semantic priming and inhibition. This study differed in that its intention was to branch off the psycholinguistic focus of lexical ambiguity to consider possible sociolinguistic implications. In this study, 40 individuals were briefly shown a single word, without context or priming, and were asked to use it in a sentence. Approximately 80 percent of the 50 words presented were homonyms or homographs. These consisted of words with at least one predominantly masculine or feminine meaning (e.g. batter), words that change syntactic function depending on stress (e.g. perverts), and other homographs and homonyms (e.g. bank). A significant difference was found in the selection of gendered interpretations of ambiguous words. The women chose feminine interpretations more frequently than the men but chose the masculine interpretations less frequently. The men, on average, chose masculine and feminine meanings with equal frequency.

Keywords: gender, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, ambiguity


Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 7-2
Location: VH 1304
Time: 8:30

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