Gender differences on the semantic flanker task using transposed-letter target words

Judge, Jeannie orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-4029-6876 and Taylor, Paul John orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-9999-8397 (2012) Gender differences on the semantic flanker task using transposed-letter target words. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 65 (10). pp. 2008-2017. ISSN 1747-0218

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Previous research has demonstrated that men and women are differentially influenced by irrelevant distractors. Other lines of evidence have suggested that increasing the perceptual load of a task reduces distractor interference for participants generally. The present study examined these effects using a semantic version of the flanker task; participants made speeded responses to category target words that were flanked by irrelevant distractors. The response mapping between the target and flanker words was either congruent (mapped to the same motor response) or incongruent (target word mapped to a different motor response to that of the flankers). Target words were presented either normally (e.g., table: low perceptual load) or with the beginning letters transposed (e.g., atble: high perceptual load). The results revealed that women showed a larger congruency effect than men but this was not due to greater interference on incongruent trials. While men and women made faster responses to normal than to transposed target words, this was similar in magnitude. The magnitude of the flanker effect for normal and transposed target words was significantly correlated in men but not in women. These findings are consistent with the view that women may process target words to a deeper level than men and therefore may engage in more conflict monitoring then men.

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