Can Your Name Ruin Your Life?
Celebrities are known for naming their kids some wacky things — but you may want to think twice before giving your own child such an unusual moniker.
A new study says a bad first name can make children lonelier, lower their self-esteem and even make them less intelligent.
In research published in the journal of Social Psychological and Personality Science, study co-author Wiebke Neberich said, “There seems to be prejudice based on name valence [or associations] … It’s a mostly unconscious process where all the associations we have with a particular name will pop up: from the newspapers, from stories and, of course, from our own history.”
As part of the study, the European dating website eDarling gathered various data from 12,000 adult participants and made some interesting discoveries along the way. For instance, most people said they’d rather stay single than be with someone who has an undesirable name.
And in another experiment, researchers sent out 47,000 emails without photos to German online daters. Those whose names carried the greatest “valence” — or intrinsic attractiveness — such as Alexander and Charlotte received 102 percent more profile visits than people whose names carried the worst valence in that culture, such as Kevin and Mandy.
Meanwhile, daters whose names matched those previously rated by teachers as belonging to “quarrelsome” students were also discriminated against, revealing a definite trend about character assumptions.
Overall research indicated those with “unfortunate” first names were more likely to smoke, be less educated and have lower self-esteem than those whose names were deemed attractive.
Neberich was quick to point out that while someone’s name won’t necessarily be the sole reason behind such things, it can certainly have an impact, adding, “It’s remarkable that just a name can influence how your social environment reacts to you, and how this reaction can influence your life.”