A new publication by Alba Casado, Alfonso Palma and Daniela Paolieri is now available: The scope of grammatical gender in Spanish: Transference to the conceptual level Click here for more information!
The aim of the present study was to explore under what circumstances we could observe a transference from grammatical gender to the conceptual representation of sex in Spanish, a two-gender language. The participants performed a lexical decision task and a gender decision task in the auditory modality, including words referencing inanimate entities associated with males or females. The sex stereotype could be congruent (falda [skirt], feminine) or incongruent (corbata [tie], feminine) with the grammatical gender. If the transfer from grammatical gender to conceptual information related to sex is settled, we should observed faster access for the congruent words compared with the incongruent ones both in the gender decision task and in the lexical decision task. The results showed a facilitation while processing congruent vs. incongruent words where attention to gender was mandatory during the adapted gender decision task. However, there was a lack of transference during the lexical decision task that might have been caused by the absence of direct conceptual activation by the time the decision was made. Additionally, we found that grammatical gender and sex-related information are closely connected, such as the indexical information about the sex of the speaker primes the activation of information related to sex at the conceptual (sex stereotype) and also at the lexical level (grammatical gender). Altogether, the results indicate that gender congruency effect is magnified by direct gender activation.