Mentor: Dr. Kimberly Cassidy
Gender schemata and stereotypes play a central role in the realm of psychology, as well as in the everyday world. Recently, much research has shed light on the importance of name phonology (how a name sounds) in relation to gender and stereotypes. For the duration of my fellowship, I will examine name phonology in relation to product name preference in adults and children. Masculine and feminine names have distinct phonological properties that enable people to infer the gender of an object simply by knowing its name. Names also help disseminate concepts of gender as well as activate people’s stereotypes regarding gender. Through my research, I will answer the question, to what degree do the phonological qualities of a product name correlate with the product’s intended consumer (males or females)? To investigate this, I will create a catalog of women’s and men’s products and ask subjects to chose which name they think is more appropriate for a given product from a pair of pseudonames—one with typically feminine phonological properties, the other with masculine properties. I hypothesize the feminine sounding names will be chosen for the stereotypically feminine products, and the opposite for masculine products. This phenomenon will be investigated with adults as well as children. By conducting the research with both age groups, we will be able to see if gender concepts become more robust as people age, which may shed light on the development of gender schemata in the human mind. I will also examine the name phonology phenomenon by looking at ads for prescription drugs in several well known magazines. Finally, I will be assisting Professor Cassidy in the write-up of her research regarding name association stereotypes. As the data has already been collected, we will work together writing the final paper to be submitted for review.