Gender and lexical access in Italian

Elizabeth Bates, Antonella Devescovi, Luigi Pizzamiglio, Simona D'amico, Arturo Hernandez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two new procedures were employed to investigate the effects of semantic and grammatical gender on lexical access in Italian and to investigate the interaction of gender with other factors that are known to influence lexical access in other languages. The gender-monitoring task requires a conscious decision about the gender of each noun, whereas the word repetition task does not require explicit attention to gender. In both tasks, single words are presented out of context, under speeded conditions. Both procedures proved to be sensitive indices of word recognition, with reaction times that are closely tied to the point at which words can be uniquely identified (although some processing before and after the uniqueness point was seen). In both tasks, reaction times were strongly affected by phonological factors (e.g., length, number of syllables, and presence of frication on the initial consonant). Phonological transparency of gender marking had a reliable effect on gender monitoring but had no effect on word repetition, suggesting that explicit attention to gender may be a factor affecting utilization of this phonological cue. Semantic factors (including semantic gender) had no effect on performance. Frequency and age of acquisition had very small effects when other factors were controlled. Implications for current models of lexical access are discussed, with special reference to the role of gender.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)847-862
Number of pages16
JournalPerception and Psychophysics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Psychology(all)


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