When gentlemen are first and ladies are last: Effects of gender stereotypes on the order of romantic partners' names


Correspondence should be addressed to Dr Peter Hegarty, Department of Psychology, University of Surrey, Guildford GU2 7XH, UK (e-mail: p.hegarty@surrey.ac.uk).


A preference to name stereotypically masculine before stereotypically feminine individuals explains why men are typically named before women, as on the Internet, for example (Study 1). Heterosexual couples are named with men's names first more often when such couples are imagined to conform to gender stereotypes (Studies 2 and 3). First-named partners of imaginary same-sex couples are attributed more stereotypically masculine attributes (Study 4). Familiarity bounds these effects of stereotypes on name order. People name couples they know well with closer people first (Study 5), and consequently name familiar heterosexual couples with members of their own gender first (Study 6). These studies evidence a previously unknown effect of the semantics of gender stereotypes on sentence structure in the everyday use of English.