Name your favorite musician: Effects of masculine generics and of their alternatives in German

Stahlberg, Dagmar; Sczesny, Sabine; Braun, Friederike (2001). Name your favorite musician: Effects of masculine generics and of their alternatives in German. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 20(4), pp. 464-469. Sage Publications

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Feminist linguists claim that masculine forms used in a generic sense (e.g. he referring to a doctor irrespective of sex) facilitate the cognitive representation of men compared to women and make women less visible. A number of experimental studies have confirmed this assumption with regard to the English language. Concerning other languages, however, this question has been addressed only in very few studies, although gender is a much more pervasive grammatical category and masculine generics are more prominent in languages such as French, Spanish or German. This paper reports three experiments with native speakers of German which were conducted to determine the influence of different types of German generics on the cognitive inclusion of women. Results indicate that inclusion of women is higher with 'non-sexist' alternatives than with masculine generics, a tendency which was consistent over studies. But the different alternative forms show different effects which also vary depending on the context. These results are discussed with regard to their practical consequences in situations such as nominating women and men for awards, political offices etc.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Social Neuroscience and Social Psychology

UniBE Contributor:

Sczesny, Sabine


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology




Sage Publications




Sabine Sczesny

Date Deposited:

09 Feb 2016 14:51

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:51




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