Text is gendered: the role of letter case

Abstract

This research investigates the association between letter case and perception of gender. We propose that referents are judged as more feminine (vs. masculine) when their names are written with lowercase (vs. uppercase) letters. This effect emerges independent of differences in the size in which the letters appear and cannot be fully explained by differences in angularity. We further identify that evaluations of feminine (vs. masculine) objects become more favorable upon presenting their names in lowercase (vs. uppercase) letters. This association between gender and letter case is more pronounced for referents with a clear gender identity (e.g., fragrances and not vacuums). By first identifying and then exploring consequences of the novel link between letter case and gender, the present investigation contributes to research on linguistics, inference, and conceptual associations while also providing insights as to how to construct communication tools most effectively.

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Correspondence to Aekyoung Kim.

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Kim, A., Maglio, S.J. Text is gendered: the role of letter case. Mark Lett 32, 179–190 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11002-021-09556-w

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Keywords

  • Language
  • Gender
  • Letter case
  • Conceptual metaphor