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One of the most significant things about us is something we have no control over ... Our names! These simple creations carry power, and whether we believe it or not, they oftentimes predict our future and affect our lives. Ask any "Karen" worldwide, and she will tell you about the ridicule she faced because of a name! Yes, you can change your name later in life, and based on science, many people might want to consider doing just that! The facts are in, and it turns out our names are more than just pretty words. They actually determine a lot about us, including some unknown and upsetting truths!
It isn't easy to pick a name for a child, but parents should heed the call and spend extra time doing this. Why? Well, names have a certain role to play. If you base it on family history and tradition, be prepared for the drama that might come along with it. Remember, unique names can be great, but they should also be avoided in certain instances ...
If you think about it, it all makes sense even without going into scientific detail. Your name is something that you hear others say every day, and if you pick something too unique, it could become a hindrance. This is also the basis of how you think of yourself, and your name shapes who you are. However, it is not only the name that matters.
Of course, the importance is not only in the name. The family surroundings, the upbringing, the culture, the history, the place, and even the year of birth can shape who we are. With all of this, it is easy to understand why this moniker must be well thought through. And science is here to back it up, revealing some unexpected revelations!
You don't have to be a scientist or a researcher to understand the basics of how people can treat one another based solely on their names. A study called It's All In The Name ... was conducted in 2001. Daniel Widner and Stephen Chicoine have found out what you probably have guessed already.
Their research proved that Americans with names that sounded a certain way were less likely to get a job interview than those with different names. This is purely unjust and wrong! However, sometimes names don't have to sound foreign.
The name influence goes beyond that. Obviously, if one's name sounds unfamiliar in a certain cultural background, they might be judged based solely on that. Sometimes, even the name from your own culture can negatively influence life and be the reason for prejudice you didn't know was there.
Inside our own culture, names have their own labels. We consider some names to be more or less fashionable ... Some names we view as old-timey and boring. This can be based on fashion and trends, but many years later, the name is not trendy, and some might even say it's obsolete.
In the 21st century, some names turn into a meme. Think of the famous "Karen" effect. A few years ago, nobody would have thought or made a joke about this moniker. But today, Karen is a whole character and not just a name. The meme-culture has changed the lives of so many Karens. But what does the science say?
There is no doubt about it that this all will influence us in one way or another. This is where we turn to science. One research paper has tackled the relationship between the name-satisfaction and psychological adjustment. The findings tell us just how valuable a good name is ...
The research titled First Name Desirability And Adjustment: Self-Satisfaction, Others' Ratings, and Family Background has found that people who don't like their own names tend to have poorer psychological adjustment. Yikes! The research also included studies of background and family relationships. So what is the connection?
There is no definite answer to that question. However, the researchers provide two options. First, people might have had low self-esteem and confidence, and because of that, they disliked their own names. Or just the other way round.
Because they disliked their names, it led them to low self-esteem and confidence. This research shows the connection in how people treat their names and then themselves. Another research tackled the issue of how others treat people based on their names. And it went deeper than simple social prejudices that were mentioned before.
Do you believe in something like an unfortunate name? What do you think science has to say about it? It says that, yes, some names can be unfortunate. As shown in a German research form 2011. Yes, Germans were very prolific with these researches.
A group of researchers—Jochen E. Gebauer, Mark R. Leary, Wiebke Neberich—published a report called Unfortunate First Names: Effects of Name-Based Relational Devaluation and Interpersonal Neglect. The team decided to tackle the area of dating sites, and this is what they found.
They asked the users whether they wanted to follow through with a person based on their name. Here comes the revelation. People whose names were considered unfashionable or disliked by others at the time of the interview were more likely to be rejected than those whose names were considered likable. What were the names?
One of the unlucky names was Kevin. Ah, poor Kevins in 2011! Others, with names like Alexander, had more luck. However, the scope of how people were treated on dating websites had its connection to real life.
We can understand that dating life had its influence on the lives of those people because it could show how people were treated in life in general, not only on websites, even when it came to helping a stranger, as is shown in another research.
The researchers Robert Busching and Johannes Lutz published their work at a very intriguing title. Their work is The influence of first name valence on the likelihood of receiving help: A field experiment. So what have they found?
The research team and the field experiment found that people who had dislikeable names (or if their name was viewed negatively) were less likely to receive help when compared to strangers with positive names. Wait, what?
People whose name was more likable were more likely to get help from a stranger and vice versa. A dislikeable name led to less and even no help. So what were the fortunate and unfortunate names in this case?
This time the best names to receive help from a stranger were Sophie and Marie. These names were the most positively rated. On the other hand, Cindy and Chantal were negatively rated names and had trouble receiving help from strangers. All of these details make up a bigger picture as to how the names influence our lives.
Some of the influence can be seen on the surface. Do you think it is easy to be an amicable person if you keep getting rejected in life, be it a dating situation or asking for help on the street? Imagine that you get rejected purely based on your name—all of this has a powerful connection, as the studies show.
The dating research showed that people who get rejected more than usual tend to have lower self-esteem and are less educated. What does this mean? Could the dating rejection reflect their life in general? Does that mean that having a unique name is actually bad for you?
Parents like to give their children unique or rare names. There is more research that shows two sides to having a unique name. On the one hand, a unique name can boost a child's future life. They also studied how names influence the involvement in crimes.
Now, this was the subject of a study in China. Han-Wu-Shuang Bao, Jianxiong Wang, and Huajian Cai have published a report called Blame Crime on Name? People With Bad Names Are More Likely to Commit Crime. It sounds like clickbait and not scientific research, right? So what did the scientists discovered?
This time, the researchers took hundreds of thousands of names and cross-checked with the risk of these people being convicted of a crime. Of course, they did no exclude other types of influences and backgrounds. However, they found that names played their role in this as well.
And so, the team has found out that people who had unpopular names or those whose names were viewed negatively were more likely to have been involved in a crime than those who had "good" names. What is the bigger picture here?
Remember the low agreeability part? One can say that people involved in crime are more likely to have low agreeability. Don't forget to add that an unpopular or "negative" name also gives the person more rejection in life, setting the person up for low agreeability. Why is that?
Huajian Cai says that our names can affect the way we feel about ourselves. It also plays a part in how others treat us. This means that parents, who want to choose the best name for their child, should always keep in mind what names have a positive or negative impression, first of all, in their own culture. But all is not so grim.
It might seem that unpopular names have only negative consequences. There is a tendency that people with names that kind of flow when you pronounce them (e.g., Marla) are viewed as more agreeable. Whereas people with more abrupt names, such as Eric, will be viewed as not so agreeable. It sounds made up, but it is not.
The research titled Does the Name Say It All? Investigating Phoneme-Personality Sound Symbolism in First Names is here to prove it. Conducted by the team consisting of David M. Sidhu, Kristen Deschamps, Joshua S. Bourdage, and Penny M. Pexman, the research shows that the sound of the name is as important. How bad can it be?
Well, being an agreeable person is not always so bad. Agreeable people tend to mix and socialize better than those who are not. Agreeability will ensure that the person will have easier communication with others, helping the person along the way in work and life. But there is another side to this.
Agreeable people can be viewed as just a "nodding head," and in some cases, if their nature is too agreeable, they can be pushed around by others. The name alone won't decide the kind of character a person will have in the future, but we can now see that it will influence it. It all comes down to the advantages one wants to have—short-term or long-term.
This leads us to another study conducted by the Chinese team (consisting of Han-Wu-Shuang Bao, Huajian Cai, C. Nathan DeWall, Ruolei Gu, Jun Chen, and Yu L. L. Luo). Their other research is titled Name Uniqueness Predicts Career Choice and Career Achievement, and the title might say it all but let's take a look at the details.
Again, the team studied the families, social and economic backgrounds, and the correlation with the names. Their research found that a rare name did contribute to a more unusual career and could lead to a different career path than we normally see with other names. Why is that?
The researchers propose that a unique or unusual name might give people a sense of uniqueness. This, in return, might motivate the person to follow a more unusual career. This is a reminder of something else.
This reminds us of the idea that our names can reflect our destiny. This trace can be found among jokes and amusing situations like a neurologist called Dr. Brain or a football player with Foor or Leg as their last name. But these are more funny coincidences and jokes. Let's go back to science.
To prove the Cai and Co research, research was conducted by Yungu Kang, David H. Zhu, and Yan Anthea Zhang. Their research states that unique names can make a person more creative and even open-minded. This was based on the studies of various CEOs.
Having checked more than a thousand CEOs, the team found that those who had rare names are found to have more distinctive strategies when it came to running a business. This report continues the ideas from the previous Cai report, giving a similar explanation to the phenomenon.
Being given a unique name and being more confident in nature, such people will view themselves as unique, different from others, and thus develop unconventional strategies. This, of course, comes together with other things that influence our lives—family, relationships, social and economic situation, the parents and the upbringing ... too much love or not enough, too much stress or life in the poverty-stricken country. But the idea remains the same.
Choosing the name has just become more difficult. Now a parent should think about whether they would like their child to be more agreeable, adjust better in life, or maybe give them a boost and highlight their uniqueness. Perhaps they should also consider their future career choice.
The thing is, any name has its advantages and disadvantages. There's no need for complex scientific studies. It is a simple thought of how the child's name plays out in high school, at least. Kids can be cruel and come up with offensive nicknames based on the name of a child. And fashion? The popularity of certain names comes in waves.
A name should not be spontaneously decided, nor should it be based on weird or complex ideas some parents have. Just because there is one kid named X Æ A-12 doesn't mean it will be a good name. That's the whole problem, and we can't be sure of it. So how can parents choose a good name for their kid?
The best way is the golden middle of it all. There should be a name that is somewhat unique but not exaggerated. A simple name will ensure a kid to be accepted and even liked by others, but a unique one will help the kid to understand and appreciate their own uniqueness. Maybe give your kid a special nickname so that they don't forget how unique they are!
But having learned all of this, how do you feel about your name? Names are significant and can change how other people see you or perceive you in your life. But do you think it influenced your life in a good or a bad way? Would you change it? If yes, what would you change it to? Leave us a comment about this topic, and don't forget to share this article with all the future parents you know!