The Cognitive Effects of Gendered Language on Memory in College Students: Implications for Standardized Testing

Watkins, Ryan S.
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This study aims to investigate the influence of gendered language on memory retention of material in a reading passage that is comparable to those used in standardized tests, hypothesizing that gender-neutral language would create contextual ambiguity and consequently lead to lower test scores in individuals with gender traditional attitudes but higher test scores in individuals with gender transcendent attitudes. Three separate versions of the same reading task were created: one containing gendered language with stereotype-consistent terminology, one containing gendered language with stereotype-inconsistent terminology, and one containing gender-neutral language with no stereotype-consistent or inconsistent terminology. 153 college students from the Department of Psychology of Texas State University were utilized for this study. There were higher scores in the Gendered Language, Stereotype-Consistent condition (GLSC), when compared to the Gendered Language, Stereotype-Inconsistent condition (GLSI) and Gender Neutral Language Condition (GNL), and there were lower scores for the GLSI condition in those who scored lower on the gender transcendent items of the SRQ. The results show, along with previous studies, an increasing trend of transcendent attitudes in education covering gender and social roles. This seems to, at times, impact the capability of an individual to learn and affects an individual’s ability to recall information in those that showcase weaker transcendent attitudes and, subsequently, those that showcase strong traditional attitudes.
Gender, Language, Standardized, Test, Scores, Traditional, Transcendent, Attitudes
Watkins, R. S. (2018). <i>The cognitive effects of gendered language on memory in college students: Implications for standardized testing</i> (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.