Psycholinguistic evaluation of the effects of gender-fair language

For several decades now, gender-fair language has regularly sparked heated societal debates. In this context, psycholinguistics offers a scientific perspective on certain aspects of this contentious issue. Through meticulous empirical investigation, we seek to shed light on the impact of different gender-fair language practices on cognitive processes and social perceptions, and maybe to bring more scientific rigor to this sometimes factually disconnected political debate. In particular, we want to assess if gender-fair language can be a effective tool to mitigate the masculine bias associated with generic masculine forms (such as « les chanteurs » to refer to a group of male and female singers in French).

In a recent study, we have begun to unravel the complexities of gender-neutral language usage. Contrary to initial assumptions, our findings revealed that formulations devoid of explicit gender markers (such as « les choristes » in French) do not entirely eliminate masculine biases. Double forms (such as « les chanteur·euse·s ») appear to be more efficient in this respect.

Administrative details:

Collaborators: Elsa Spinelli

Selected publications and presentations:


E. Spinelli, J.-P. Chevrot, L. Varnet (2023). Neutral is not fair enough: testing the efficiency of different language gender-fair strategies, Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 14. (article


– Intervention dans l’émission « Avec Science » (France Culture) : Écriture inclusive : le point médian supprime les biais de genre

– Site du CNRS : Langage inclusif : pour le cerveau, le neutre n’est pas neutre

– Science et Avenir : Ecriture inclusive : ce qu’en dit la science

– Le Journal du CNRS : L’écriture inclusive par-delà le point médian

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Réponse aux réactions sur l’écriture inclusive

Langage inclusif : pour le cerveau, le neutre n’est pas neutre