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21st Jan 2017

Do you have an “attractive” name? It could determine how successful you will be

Amanda Cassidy

I was almost born stupid.

My parents changed my name at the last minute to a much better version. It didn’t stop my siblings teasing me my whole life, but on paper, and according to nature, I am destined to succeed

But what’s really in a name? A lot, according to researchers.

Studies have thrown up many interesting examples of how your name can influence the way people see you as a person, and this can, in turn, reflect how YOU live your life.

If that’s true, it means your child’s teacher could judge how problematic or otherwise your child could be just by looking at the school roll before the school year begins.

Richard Wiseman, a professor of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, told the that it seems to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“If your name sounds intelligent, successful and attractive, you are more likely to act those things.”

I mean just look at HIS name for goodness sake!

So it’s no coincidence that the world’s fastest man is called Bolt, there is a racing driver called Scott Speed and let us not forget the celebrated poet, William Wordsworth. Other examples of this so-called ‘nominative determinism’ are pain expert Richard Payne and British urologist Nicolas Burns-Cox. (I’m not even a little bit joking.)

Women's names written on post it in different colorsWomen's names written on post it in different colors

A more recent study by respected U.S psychologist, Albert Mehrabian of the University of California found people are treated differently depending on how attractive or unattractive your name may be. He even came up with a system behind the psychology of how people react to names.

He told UCLA that names could be categorised into four groups: Ethical-caring, popular-fun, successful, and masculine/feminine. Each group was given a score from 1 to 100. He believes that we subconsciously associate with names based on our own particular experiences with people or history.

Just Call Me Fabulous

For example when you think “Alexander,” you think of Alexander the Great or “Elizabeth” could make you think of Queen Elizabeth. He also marks each name based on the harshness of sound, the visual image and the choice of letter and the start and end of a name. Soft names such as “Isabella” were more associated with feminity while short, strong sounds such as “Max” lean towards a masculine scoring.

Mr. Mehrabian who authored the book on “Beneficial and Harmful Baby Names” says;

“Names make impressions, just like the way you clothe your child or, the way you groom them makes an impression. People with ‘undesirable’ names do get treated differently.”

Mr. Mehrabian was at the helm of the ten-year study of the attractiveness of US names.

Here is his list of the top five:

1. Elizabeth
2. Jacqueline
3. Holly
4. Ann
5. Mary

1. James
2. Steven
3. Christopher
4. Kenneth
5. Thomas

While bottom of the list:

1. Elvira
3. Shar
4. Zoila
5. Latrina

1. Butch
2. Rufus
3. Ozzie
4. Jock
5. Rip

Mostly I’m just shocked these names even exist.

He has this advice for parents;

“Don’t try to be clever or artistic, overall I would say avoid unusual names and never spell a name in an unconventional way.”

Researchers conclude that there seems to be an apparent and subconscious tendency for people to prefer things that are similar to themselves. That means it may be no coincidence that there are more boys called Louis in the U.S. city of St Louis than anywhere else in America.

But let’s be honest, it doesn’t matter what you name your child as long as YOU (both) like it. It also matters that you don’t regret your choice. Don’t forget in between nappy changes and night feeds there is not much time to reassess. My advice, just go with your gut. And if all else fails, pay for grinds.

Is your baby’s name on the list? Let us know if you think there is more to baby’s name than we think!