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What’s in a name? And can our names really affect our outcomes in life?
Hey guys, Tara here for Dnews - and have you ever noticed how we tend to associate certain
names with personalities? I’m reminded a 30 Rock quote, where Alec Baldwin’s character
points out "There will never be a president Ashton.” Which seems probable - but is there
any science behind that? And can our names really predict our futures?
It’s an interesting question - and there have been a lot of studies over the years,
trying to figure out how our names affect our lives.
A recent one, published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, looked at over
300 pairs of twins in China, and found that not only is liking your own name predictive
of your well-being, it’s also determined in large part, by your genetic and environmental
Another study, published in 2005, found that boys who were given girl’s names, were more
likely to have behavioral problems, and as a result - generally do poorer in school.
There have also been a bevy of studies examining the racial aspects of naming. A 2004 study
in The American Economic Review, found that job applicants with white-sounding names,
as opposed to characteristically black names - received 50% more callbacks for interviews
- even if their qualifications were the same. So often times, it’s more about the stereotypes
of other people, than it is about your actual name.
There was another study in 2003 on the topic of racial naming conventions, which argued
that even if stereotypes like that do affect job callbacks - it’s unlikely they would
make a difference beyond the interview stage, since our perceptions of people’s names
don’t matter as much, once we’ve personally met them.
Racial stereotypes aside, though - how does all of this work? I mean, it’s our parents
who name us, after all - and history shows that parents tend to name their kids after
people they like. But is it really just about preference, or is there some social status
at play?
According to social psychologist Martin Skinner, "The real consequence is not in the actual
name itself, but in the intentions behind it.” He says that "Names usually reflect
parental aspirations, so someone who wants their child to be taken seriously will give
them a name that has weight and is not frivolous - whatever class they are."
So in a sense, our names reveal more about our parents, than they do about us.
Here’s a perfect example. There was a series of studies done in the mid 1900s, that found
that kids with unusual or uncommon first names were more likely to experience mental illness,
and in particular - psychosis and neurosis.
Now if we’re operating under the assumption that those names are a reflection of the psychological
state of their parents, then it’s likely that the parents chose those names, as a way
of unconsciously signaling that their kids are peculiar and perhaps even deserving of
ridicule. If that is the case, then it’s equally as likely that those parents sent
their kids other negative messages over the years - unconscious or not - that could’ve
led to them developing a mental illness.
And to look at it from another angle, it’s also entirely possible that the parents who
gave their kids unusual names, also experienced similar illnesses, which were then passed
down to their kids through their genes.
Whatever the case may be - it’s generally agreed that the outcome your name has on your
success levels is pretty negligible. In the long run, your own personal efforts can easily
outweigh the impact of your name.
What do you guys think? Do you feel like your name has contributed to your personality?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, and as always - thank you guys for


名字如何透露你的個性? (What Does Your Name Say About You?)

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林曉玉 發佈於 2015 年 4 月 24 日
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