Effects of Gender Inclusive/Exclusive Language in Religious Discourse

Kathryn Greene, Donald L. Rubin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Religious speech (i.e. preaching) is a prominent language event, yet it has received scant attention in research on language and attitudes. In recent years, many religious institutions have adopted reforms mandating gender-inclusive (non-sexist) language. Only a few studies have examined the effects of gender-inclusive or gender-exclusive language use on listeners’ judgments of speakers, and none of these examine religious discourse in particular. In addition, few studies have examined how variables like gender-role typing or attitude toward equal rights for women and men might mediate between gender-linked language and judgments of speakers. In the present study, a male and a female audiotaped each of two sermon texts in both gender-inclusive and gender-exclusive language guises. Findings indicate that ministers who adopt gender-inclusive language suffer no negative evaluations. Three mediating variables proved to be especially potent in predicting listeners’ responses to the stimulus sermons: attitude toward sexist language, expressive gender-role typing, and perceptions of women's rights. Implications for language reform policies and for further research on gender-inclusive language are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-98
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Language and Social Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1991
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language


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