Do We Judge Fiction by the Author’s Gender?

Chantelle Ivanski, Stacey Humphries, K.H. van Dalen-Oskam, Raymond A. Mar

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Female authors of fiction often perceive themselves to be undervalued in relation to their male counterparts. What is not clear is whether this preference for male authors comes from readers or publishers. Two pre-registered studies examined how university students evaluated book passages attributed to either male or female authors, and investigated whether negative evaluations of romance novels are based on their association with women. In Study 1, participants read identical passages attributed to either male or female authors and evaluated them. Study 2 extended this work by adding attributions of genre: either romance or literary fiction. Linear mixed-effects modeling and Bayesian analyses were employed to analyze these data. Study 1 demonstrated little preference for books attributed to males over females and Bayesian analyses confirmed support for the null in most cases. The results of Study 2 similarly suggested that author gender and genre attributions do not have a strong influence on evaluations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299–312
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Media Psychology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2022


  • narrative fiction
  • gender stereotypes
  • reading
  • discourse
  • evaluations
  • literary quality


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