Difficult name, cold man: Chinese names, gender stereotypicality and trustworthiness

Xiaopeng Du, Mengchen Dong, Dian Gu, Zhiyong Xin, Jiang Jiang, Yan Sun
Published Online:
07 Dec 2020

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Names can play an important role in forming first impressions. While much of the literature has demonstrated how alphabet‐based names influence impression formation, little is known about how character‐based names (e.g., Chinese names) affect interpersonal trust. Across six studies, we demonstrated that a difficult‐to‐recognise Chinese name with less frequently used characters activated masculine perception, which in turn decreased trust in the name holder. The masculine inferences from difficult names were replicated across within‐subjects (Study 1a and 1b) and between‐subjects judgements and maintained irrespective of normative knowledge about difficult names as male names (Study 1c). The mediation of gender stereotypicality was manifested in both measured spontaneous gender inference (Study 2a and Study 2b) and manipulated gender information (Study 2c). The effects of recognisability on masculine and trust perceptions were independent of pronunciationability (Study 2b). This research extends previous research by revealing the implications of character‐based names and pictographic language on the feeling‐as‐information theory, also in terms of interpersonal contexts.

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