6 Ways a Name Can Shape Your Baby’s Entire Life
Deciding what to name your baby takes months of arduous decision-making. As it turns out, all that time might be well spent, as a name can have quite an impact on someone’s life.
1. Last in Line, First to Grab a Deal
For the Zuckermans and Youngs out there-it’s not all doom and gloom for those coming near last in the surname race. Researchers have found that people whose last names begin with letters lower down the alphabet are the quickest to react to limited offers of goods or tickets.
“For years, simply because of your name, you’ve received inequitable treatment,” says Kurt Carlson, an assistant professor at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business and a co-author of the paper, which is to be published in the Journal of Consumer Research. “So when you get to exercise control, you seize on opportunity. It’s a coping strategy, and over time it becomes a natural way to respond.”
However, this is tempered with some bad news – a tendency to jump on sweet deals early may lead to impulse shopping. But so does owning a credit card, and everyone has one of those.
2. A Boy Named Sue or Nancy or Kelly
Maybe you’re huge Johnny Cash fans or perhaps you think being teased relentlessly throughout life would be a funny joke to play. Whatever the reason, if you are a boy with a girly name like Sue or Kelly, you may not be any tougher, but according to studies, you probably misbehaved more than the Davids and Stevens in your class.
On the flip side, the same study found that females with masculine sounding names were more likely to pursue math and science to humanity studies.
3. Misspelled Names Spell Trouble
Sorry Keven and Aymee…
A (lame) attempt to make your child a special snowflake by making their name a pain in the ass to spell is not only misguided, it is detrimental to their future.
Unconventionally spelled names, as compared with conventionally spelled names, connoted lower levels of success, morality, popularity, warmth and cheerfulness to raters of both sexes. Unconventionally spelled male names were judged as less masculine than conventionally spelled male names, with the understanding that anyone named Marion is a woman, no matter how you spell it. Unconventionally spelled female names were judged as more masculine (less feminine) than their conventionally spelled counterparts. If your name is Kym, rest assured, most people figure you’re a “womyn”. All findings consistently showed, therefore, that persons with unconventionally spelled names were thought to have less desirable characteristics than were those with conventionally spelled names.
4. Location, Occupation, and Academic Success
Dennis the Dentist marries Deborah and lives in Denver. According to the name letter effect (NLE), just the first letter of your name can influence your preference for places, activities, and people. The theory maintains that people like the letters in their own names (particularly their initials) better than other letters of the alphabet.
Why Frankie is failing. The “name-letter effect” can have some negative consequences. Students with names starting with letters associated with poor performance (C’s and D’s), actually performed worse than students with names starting with A or B, this, according to the researchers, is because students with C and D names have less aversion to the letters themselves.
The name-letter effect is caused by what Pelham calls ‘implicit egotism’. In other words, we’re all unconsciously attracted to things that remind us of ourselves – including the letters in our names. “If you notice even some fragment of your name, it catches your attention and creates a positive association for you,” says Pelham.
5. Being a Junior Can Make You Successful or Crazy
Being named after dear old dad, according to science, can be a blessing or a curse. Many super successful people are juniors. The first three men to set foot on the moon were juniors. However, psychologists point out that a parent strongly motivated to give his offspring the same name may be a self-serving, narcissistic jerk with overbearing tendencies. This may lead to raising super achievers or neurotic, stressed out individuals. Robert Plank (1971) found that JRs were twice as frequent among a list of neuro-psychiatric patients at a Veterans hospital. A second study showed that applicants for outpatient psychiatric care were 3 times as likely to be a junior.
6. Alphabetical Discrimination: Surnames and Success
It’s the future. Your child just received a Nobel Prize and are getting around to thanking their family, colleagues and a higher power (the Internet, of course) for all the help they’ve given on your child’s path to glory and success. It’s great to acknowledge others that aided them on their rise to the top, but they might have to thank their last name as well – or more specifically, that the first letter of their last name comes pretty close to the top when alphabetizing.
Alphabetical discrimination – that’s right, people being oppressed or lauded for where their surname lines up in the alphabet. After analyzing surnames of academics working in economics departments at US universities, researchers found that those with initials early in the alphabet were more likely to be in the best-rated departments, to become fellows of the Econometric Society and even to win a Nobel Prize.
Not just limited to those in academia, a separate follow up survey showed that the surname effect was applicable to all types of careers and that alphabetical discrimination was a factor in the workplace. So, consider your worst suspicions confirmed. That guy in accounting whose last name is “something that starts with a B” really is the asshole you suspect him to be.
Author: Diana Cook