The behavior to lend credibility or importance to one's statements is called "name dropping".
Name dropping is a typical ingratiation tactic. Other ingratiation tactics are: other-enhancement, opinion conformity, self-enhancement, self-depreciation, instrumental dependency, and a variety of situation specific behaviors. While ingratiating behavior is strongest towards superiors across all people, there are people who show more or less ingratiating behavior across all situations and relationships (Bohra & Pandey, 1984).
Besides this function of name dropping "to position oneself in a status hierarchy", where people "may claim connections to celebrities or other high-status people to raise their own status" and impress their listeners, "[n]ame display is also used to discover whether there is a common bond between new acquaintances. People who lived in the same city or attended the same school may go through long lists of names seeking common ground." (Donath & Boyd, 2004)
This function of "seeking common ground" can not only be achieved by dropping personal names of possible common acquaintances, but also by naming authors, movies or products that you enjoy: if your partner knows and likes Mozzarella or Michael Corleone, too, these common interests form a basis for a new friendship that would have otherwise been difficult to build.
In short: you have to be careful and porperly analyze the person and situation to understand the causes and aims of name dropping.
- Bohra, K. A., & Pandey, J. (1984). Ingratiation toward strangers, friends, and bosses. Journal of Social Psychology, 122(2), 217-222. doi:10.1080/00224545.1984.9713483
- Donath, J., & Boyd, D. (2004). Public Displays of Connection. BT Technology Journal, 22(4), 71-82. doi:10.1023/B:BTTJ.0000047585.06264.cc