Graduation Term


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

John B. Pryor


This study investigated the impact of gender-biased language in the wording of state regulations governing the treatment of foster children in Illinois. Participants were given excerpts of legal language written with either gender-biased or gender-inclusive language and then asked to judge a hypothetical situation involving a male or a female child. It was hypothesized that gender-biased language would have differential effects on interpretation of the language for boys versus girls; we also proposed a moderated mediation model that hypothesized activation of gendered constructs would mediate the interpretation of gendered language. According to the hypothesized model, participant sexism and attitudes towards gender-biased language would moderate these relationships. Analyses were conducted using data collected from 274 participants using an online survey on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Analyses did not support our main hypotheses; language type and gender of child did not significantly affect participant evaluations of the hypothetical scenario, and the hypothesized moderated mediation model was not supported. Possible explanations for these findings and future directions are discussed.


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