The rapid use of gender information: Evidence of the time course of pronoun resolution from eyetracking

Jennifer E. Arnold, Janet G. Eisenband, Sarah Brown-Schmidt, John C. Trueswell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Eye movements of listeners were monitored to investigate how gender information and accessibility influence the initial processes of pronoun interpretation. Previous studies on this issue have produced mixed results, and several studies have concluded that gender cues are not automatically used during the early processes of pronoun interpretation (e.g. Garnham, A., Oakhill, J. & Cruttenden, H. (1992). The role of implicit causality and gender cue in the interpretation of pronouns. Language and Cognitive Processes, 73 (4), 231-255; Greene, S. B., McKoon, G. & Ratcliff, R. (1992). Pronoun resolution and discourse models. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 182, 266-283). In the two experiments presented here, participants viewed a picture with two familiar cartoon characters of either same or different gender. They listened to a text describing the picture, in which a pronoun referred to either the first, more accessible, character, or the second. (For example, Donald is bringing some mail to (Mickey/Minnie) while a violent storm is beginning. He's carrying an umbrella.) The results of both experiments show rapid use of both gender and accessibility at approximately 200 ms after the pronoun offset.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)B13-B26
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 14 2000


  • Accessibility
  • Gender cues
  • Language comprehension
  • Pronoun resolution
  • Referent processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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