Do language reforms change our way of thinking?

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A naturalistic experiment investigated the effects of language reforms on several aspects of thought. Half of the students in an introductory psychology class received corrections any time they used “he” as a generic pronoun in their written work; the other half received no corrections to their written language use. At the end of the semester, all students completed measures of their language use, their gender imagery, and their attitudes to-ward language reforms. Results showed that the language corrections did reduce students' subsequent use of gender-biased language but did not affect their imagery nor their attitudes toward language reforms. Additional results revealed thatgender imagery was related to the gender connotations of the language encountered in the imagery task, especially for female students, and to language use for students who did not receive corrections. Implications of these results for the debate about the masculine generic prescription are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-19
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Language and Social Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language


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