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Effect of conflicting gender cues on the cognitive availability of nonbinary they

Kirsch, Hannah (2022) Effect of conflicting gender cues on the cognitive availability of nonbinary they. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This thesis aimed to investigate how conflicting gender cues affect the comprehension and production of nonbinary they. Nonbinary they is of great academic interest because it represents a unique linguistic change and invites perspectives from various academic disciplines. It is also of growing interest to the public due to the social debates surrounding nonbinary they and an increasing presence in mainstream media. We conducted two studies to investigate how conflicting gender cues affect interpretation and production of nonbinary they. Experiment 1 was a comprehension study and investigated how a manipulation of gender cue conflict affected how often participants interpreted the word they as referring to a character that goes by they/them pronouns. Results showed that participants were more likely to interpret they as referring to a character that goes by they/them pronouns more often in a condition with high gender cue conflict, consistent with more gender cue conflict attracting more attention (Chun & Turke-Brown, 2007),. Experiment 2 was a production study that investigated disambiguation and audience design strategies in two conditions, one a nonbinary character whose gender cues conflicted and one without. Results showed that participants produced more plural markers and produced plural they and them less often in the condition with gender cue conflict. These data patterns suggested that participants may have been engaging in audience design and disambiguation strategies but did not reach statistical significance.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Kirsch, Hannahhck6@pitt.eduhck6
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Thesis AdvisorWarren,
Committee MemberDickey, Michael
Committee MemberPatson,
Committee MemberCiccocioppo,
Date: 27 April 2022
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 8 April 2022
Approval Date: 27 April 2022
Submission Date: 20 April 2022
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 52
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: University Honors College
Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: nonbinary they singular they gender cues cue conflict audience design disambiguation
Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2022 15:45
Last Modified: 27 Apr 2022 15:45


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