Gender Bias in Language Comprehension

Exploring the Role of Gender Bias in Adjectives of the Danish Language

  • Lasse Hyldig Hansen Aarhus University
  • Kristian Severin Mengel-Niemann Aarhus University
Keywords: Gender bias, Heuristics, top-down processes, Danish adjectives


Humans depend on top-down processes in their understanding of language. Previous studies have shown how gender biases are apparent in human communication and have suggested that these come from previous experiences that lay the grounds for a heuristical approach to language comprehension. In this paper, we suggest that there is a gender bias in some of the most common Danish adjectives. Furthermore, we indicate that this gender bias can be used to alter the way in which Danish speakers understand seemingly gender-neutral, syntactical subjects. This is done through statistical analyses made on the basis of results from online questionnaires. We discuss our results with a starting point in literature about social role theory and gender bias and use this as grounds for proposing that Danish speakers are heuristically limited by gender stereotypes when assessing the gender of a gender-neutral, grammatical subject in written Danish.

Author Biographies

Lasse Hyldig Hansen, Aarhus University

Lasse Hyldig Hansen is enrolled in the Cognitive Science programme at Aarhus University. His main interest lies in using statistical models and machine learning to understand and explain human behaviour, economy and relations.

Kristian Severin Mengel-Niemann, Aarhus University

Kristian Severin Mengel-Niemann is enrolled in the Cognitive Science programme at Aarhus University. His main interests include looking at human behaviour and reasoning within the field of cognitive neuroscience.


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How to Cite
Hansen, L., & Mengel-Niemann, K. (2020). Gender Bias in Language Comprehension. Journal of Language Works - Sprogvidenskabeligt Studentertidsskrift, 5(1), 61-77. Retrieved from