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When “He” can also be “She”: an ERP study of reflexive pronoun resolution in written mandarin Chinese

Su, Jui-Ju; Molinaro, Nicola; Gillon-Dowens, Margaret; Tsai, Pei-Shu; Wu, Denise H.; Carreiras, Manuel

When “He” can also be “She”: an ERP study of reflexive pronoun resolution in written mandarin Chinese Thumbnail


Authors

Jui-Ju Su

Nicola Molinaro

Margaret Gillon-Dowens

Pei-Shu Tsai

Denise H. Wu

Manuel Carreiras



Abstract

The gender information in written Chinese third person pronouns is not symmetrically encoded: the character for "he" (, with semantic radical , meaning human) is used as a default referring to every individual, while the character for "she" (, with semantic radical , meaning woman) indicates females only. This critical feature could result in different patterns of processing of gender information in text, but this is an issue that has seldom been addressed in psycholinguistics. In Chinese, the written forms of the reflexive pronouns are composed of a pronoun plus the reflexive "/self" (/himself and /herself). The present study focuses on how such gender specificity interacts with the gender type of an antecedent, whether definitional (proper name) or stereotypical (stereotypical role noun) during reflexive pronoun resolution. In this event-related potential (ERP) study, gender congruity between a reflexive pronoun and its antecedent was studied by manipulating the gender type of antecedents and the gender specificity of reflexive pronouns (default: /himself vs. specific: /herself). Results included a P200 "attention related" congruity effect for /himself and a P600 "integration difficulty" congruity effect for /herself. Reflexive pronoun specificity independently affected the P200 and N400 components. These results highlight the role of /himself as a default applicable to both genders and indicate that only the processing of /herself supports a two-stage model for anaphor resolution. While both reflexive pronouns are evaluated at the bonding stage, the processing of the gender-specific reflexive pronoun is completed in the resolution stage.

Citation

Su, J., Molinaro, N., Gillon-Dowens, M., Tsai, P., Wu, D. H., & Carreiras, M. (2016). When “He” can also be “She”: an ERP study of reflexive pronoun resolution in written mandarin Chinese. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00151

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 27, 2016
Publication Date Feb 12, 2016
Deposit Date Oct 18, 2017
Publicly Available Date Oct 18, 2017
Journal Frontiers in Psychology
Electronic ISSN 1664-1078
Publisher Frontiers Media
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 7
DOI https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00151
Keywords ERPs; reflexive pronoun resolution; type of gender information; gender specificity; Mandarin Chinese
Public URL https://nottingham-repository.worktribe.com/output/776457
Publisher URL https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00151

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