When Women's Ideas are Misattributed to Men: The Effect of Gendered Language and Argument Quality on Misattributions of Discussion Contributions

Open Access
Simon, Alyssa Pauline
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Theresa K Vescio, Thesis Supervisor
  • Rick R Jacobs, Honors Advisor
  • gendered language
  • misattribution
  • stereotyping
  • source recognition
Previous research has established that men and women speak in distinctly different ways, such that women speak tentatively and men speak directly (Carli, 1990). Gender differences in speech patterns have led to stereotypes and expectations regarding the ways in which comments are presented by men and women. While research shows that tentatively stated, or stereotypically female, ideas are associated with higher numbers of source recognition errors, the goal of the present study is to understand the relationship between gender and the misattribution of arguments. I hypothesized that 1) tentative arguments will be less well remembered and 2) tentatively stated high-quality arguments would be more frequently attributed to men than women. To test predictions, participants saw a discussion of the benefits of a tuition hike, where the language (tentative or direct speech) and gender of the speakers were crossed. Following the discussion, participants rated each discussant on competence and warmth prior to completing a recognition task requiring that discussion contributions be matched with the speaker who presented the contribution. Consistent with predictions, tentative speakers were perceived as less competent. Also consistent with predictions, contributions that were stated tentatively and contributions stated by women were less well remembered. But findings did not support the prediction that ideas would be more likely to be misattributed to male than female speakers. The implications of these findings are discussed and subsequent research is considered.