The Name Stereotype: What Your Name Says About You

01 August 2016,   By ,   0 Comments

Even if you didn’t know who Usain Bolt was, the mere mention of the name sounds like he is someone who is speedy like a bolt of lightning. Yes, names do have an influence on the perception of our personality by others. This is due to the fact that name stereotypes cause people to bring up mental associations for certain names.

Let us look at a few common first name stereotypes.

Gender stereotyping

Among stereotypes of common names we must consider the role that gender has to play. Studies show that girls with very feminine names steer clear of “masculine” subjects like physics or math after attaining age 16. Because these

subjects are conventionally perceived as principally male, they are less popular with girls named Anne, Shirley or Elizabeth. On the other hand, you are likely to find an Abigail, Sage or Elliotte opting for a math or physics major, as these names were seen as less feminine during a linguistic test.

This theory was tested on twins who were named Alex and Isabella. The study which was conducted across 1,000 pairs of sisters in the US and the theory was confirmed that Alex had a greater likelihood of choosing math or science for higher studies than her twin.

Names and attractiveness

UCLA psychology Albert Mehrabian has conducted some tests which he has published in his book Baby Name Report Card. His testing comprised of how attractive people were perceived on the basis of their name. Some names automatically evoked an image of success, popularity or gentleness. People with traditional first names like Mary or Michael were popular choices for a positive first impression. In Britain, people associated royal names like James and Elizabeth as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

This might come as a warning to parents who name their children with funny first names just so they can stand out. However, the repercussion is that people identify these children with negative traits.

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