On the bounded rationality of gender stereotyping in fame judgments



The false-fame effect is the phenomenon that familiar names are falsely judged famous more often than unfamiliar names. M.R. Banaji and A.G. Greenwald (1995) demonstrated a gender bias in the false-fame effect: In line with existing gender stereotypes, the false-fame effect was larger for male than for female names. A more general explanation for gender biasing in fame judgments is based on cognitive availability. Name gender could be used as an ecologically valid cue when making fame judgments. If the relevant universe of famous names contained more male than female names, a gender bias in fame judgments should be observed, if it contained more female names, the gender bias should be reversed. Indeed, this pattern could be demonstrated experimentally, and we argue that it is not compatible with an account that draws on gender stereotyping but with one based on cognitive availability. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.