3 years ago

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

Claire Etaugh, Colleen Geraghty

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 However, our research with college students revealed that Kasof’s matched forename pairs are now outdated.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.

Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11199-018-0903-y

DOI: 10.1007/s11199-018-0903-y

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