Advertisement

Sex Roles

, Volume 79, Issue 11–12, pp 726–737 | Cite as

Both Gender and Cohort Affect Perceptions of Forenames, but Are 25-Year-Old Standards Still Valid?

  • Claire Etaugh
  • Colleen Geraghty
Original Article

Abstract

Forenames signify considerable information, not only about a person’s gender, but also about that person’s age, social class, and ethnicity, as well as characteristics such as attractiveness and intellectual competence. Kasof (1993) found that research (almost all done in the U.S.) often used gender-typed forenames to identify individuals’ sex or gender in studies of potential gender bias. However, because these forenames signified other traits unrelated to gender, results were confounded in ways often favoring male stimulus persons. To remedy this situation, Kasof identified pairs of female and male forenames that were matched on key variables such as perceived age, attractiveness, and intellectual competence. We found that since 1995, approximately one-third of researchers who manipulated the sex or gender of hypothetical women and men used Kasof’s matched female and male forenames to control for extraneous variables. However, our research with college students revealed that Kasof’s matched forename pairs are now outdated. College students rated Kasof’s forenames (which are characteristic of popular forenames of their parents’ cohort) as less attractive than their own cohort’s popular forenames. Consistent with Kasof’s results, however, popular male forenames continued to be rated as connoting greater intellectual competence than popular female forenames. Implications of these findings are discussed.

Keywords

Naming practices Forenames Gender bias Gender stereotypes Vignette experiment 

Notes

Compliance with Ethical Standards

The co-authors have complied with all ethical standards in carrying out and submitting this researchproject

Supplementary material

11199_2018_903_MOESM1_ESM.docx (47 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 47 kb)

References

  1. Bryner, J. (2010, June 13). Good or bad, baby names have long-lasting effects. Retrieved from http://www.livescience.com
  2. Buchanan, B. A., & Bruning, J. L. (1971). Connotative meanings of first names and nicknames on three dimensions. Journal of Social Psychology, 85, 143–144.  https://doi.org/10.1080/00224545.1971.9918556.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Coffey, B., & McLaughlin, P. A. (2009). Do masculine names help female lawyers become judges?: Evidence from South Carolina. American Law and Economics Review, 11, 112–133.  https://doi.org/10.1093/aler/ahp008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Coffey, B., & McLaughlin, P. A. (2016). The effect on lawyers’ income of gender information contained in first names. Review of Law & Economics, 12, 57–76.  https://doi.org/10.1515/rle-2014-0032.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Colman, A. M., Sluckin, W., & Hargreaves, D. J. (1981). The effect of familiarity on preferences for surnames. British Journal of Psychology, 72, 363–369.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.2044-.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dion, K. L. (1985). Sex differences in desirability of first names: Another nonconscious sexist bias? Academic Psychology Bulletin, 7, 287–298.Google Scholar
  7. Etaugh, C., & Bridges, J. (2018). Woman’s lives: A psychological exploration (4th ed.). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Etaugh, C., & Cummings-Hill, M. (1999, May). Does forename and surname attractiveness affect evaluations of professional competence? Paper presented at the meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago, IL.Google Scholar
  9. Etaugh, C., & Roe, L. (2002, June). “What’s in a name”? Surname choice affects perceptions of women and men. New Orleans, LA: Poster presented at the meeting of the American Psychological Society.Google Scholar
  10. Figlio, D. (2007). Boys named sue: Disruptive children and their peers. Education Finance and Policy, 2, 376–394.  https://doi.org/10.3386/w11277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kasof, J. (1993). Sex bias in the naming of stimulus persons. Psychological Bulletin, 113, 140–163.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.113.1.140.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Leirer, V. O., Hamilton, D. L., & Carpenter, S. (1982). Common first names as cues for inferences about personality. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 8, 712–718.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167282084018.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Lieberson, S., Dumais, S., & Baumann, S. (2000). The instability of androgynous names: The symbolic maintenance of gender boundaries. American Journal of Sociology, 105, 1249–1287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Mathews, T. J., & Hamilton, B. E. (2002). Mean age of mothers, 1970-2000. National vital statistics report; vol.51, no.1. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics.Google Scholar
  15. Mathews, T. J., & Hamilton, B. E (2016). Mean age of mothers is on the rise: United States, 2000–2014. NCHS data brief, no.232. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics.Google Scholar
  16. Mehrabian, A. (1990). The name game. Bethesda, MD: National Press Books.Google Scholar
  17. Mehrabian, A. (1992). Interrelationships among name desirability, name uniqueness, emotion characteristics connoted by names, and temperament. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 22, 1797–1808.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1559-1816.1992.tb00977.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Mehrabian, A. (2001). Characteristics attributed to individuals on the basis of their first names. Genetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs, 27, 59–88.Google Scholar
  19. NCFMR Family profiles. (2011). Fatherhood in the U.S.: Men’s age at first birth1987-2010. FP-11-04. Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University.Google Scholar
  20. Pilcher, J. (2017). Names and “doing gender”: How forenames and surnames contribute to gender identities, difference, and inequalities. Sex Roles, 77, 812–822.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-017-0805-4.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  21. Robnett, R. (2017). Overcoming functional fixedness in naming traditions: A commentary on Pilcher’s “names and ‘doing gender’”. Sex Roles, 77, 823–828.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-017-0838-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Social Security Administration. (2014). Popular baby names. Retrieved from https://www.ssa.gov/oact/babynames. Accessed 14 Jun 2014
  23. Steiner, P. M., Atzmuller, C., & Su, D. (2016). Designing valid and reliable vignette experiments for survey research: A case study on the fair gender income gap. Journal of Methods and Measurement in the Social Sciences, 7, 52–94.  https://doi.org/10.2458/v7i2.20321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Violanti, M. T., & Jurczak, L. P. (2011). The effect of sex and gender on perceptions of leaders: Does situation make a difference. Advancing Women in Leadership, 31, 45–56.  https://doi.org/10.18738/awla1.31i0.84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Zajonc, R. B. (2001). Mere exposure: A gateway to the subliminal. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 10, 224–228.  https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8721.00154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Zhao, X., & Biernat, M. (2017). “Welcome to the U.S. but change your name”? Adopting Anglo names and discrimination. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 70, 59–68.  https://doi.org/10.1016/jesp.2016.12.008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyBradley UniversityPeoriaUSA

Personalised recommendations