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ERIC Number: ED227536
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-Oct
Reference Count: 0
Evaluating Alternatives to Exclusive "He."
Todd-Mancillas, William R.
A study was conducted to determine the effects on reading comprehension of the use of the exclusive pronoun "he" and more or less contrived alternatives. Subjects, 358 students enrolled in an introduction to human communication at a large northeastern university, read three different forms of the same essay. One essay form exclusively used "he," the second used "less contrived" pronouns (s/he, him/her, his/her), and the third used "more contrived" pronouns (ter, tem, tey). Following the reading, students responded to 10 multiple choice questions measuring actual comprehension and 8 additional questions measuring comprehension, dynamism, and worthwhileness of material. Results showed that the more contrived the pronoun form, the more likely it was that college-age students would perceive it as difficult to comprehend. Actual comprehension scores were significantly higher in the exclusive "he" than in the "more contrived" condition, but actual comprehension scores did not differ significantly between the exclusive "he" and the "less contrived" condition. "More contrived" pronoun forms posed more serious comprehension problems for men than for women, but men found the "less contrived" forms easier to comprehend than the women did. (JL)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Abbreviated version of a paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Communication, Language, and Gender Conference (5th, Athens, OH, October 15-16, 1982).