You might not realise it or be consciously aware of it, but your name can have a big impact on your life and your personality. You might spend a long time choosing your baby’s name, but few people look into the psychology behind how a name can shape a person. The psychology of a first name is something to consider when choosing a name for your newborn, and always good to have an idea of how important a name can really be…
What’s in a name?
Over the years many psychological studies have been carried out that look into whether a name can shape who you become and even the opportunities that life presents. One of the first studies of this kind was carried out in 1948. This took 330 men and looked at the differences between men with unusual names and men with more common names. The study showed that the more unusual the names where they could have a negative effect on its bearer.
Some recent studies have suggested that names can influence the choice of profession, who we marry, the grades we achieve, where we live, whether we are accepted in school, the workplace and even the quality of our work.
In contrast to the 1948 study, a study carried out more recently by psychologist Debra Crisp in 1984, found that more common names were better liked, but they had no impact on a person’s educational achievement. Studies show that we are drawn towards names that we find familiar and thus comfortable. We are particularly drawn to names that have similarities to ours, as we search to find something in common with someone else.
Some of the most significant findings from these studies have resulted in a few interesting ideas about the psychology of names and the future the person with that name might have:
You may earn more money if your name is shorter
Many studies have looked into whether a name could be holding someone back. One study looked at six million people to see who was more successful and found that names with five letters were the optimal length to achieve success. Controversially, it also found that if the name was easy to pronounce that person was more likely to get a promotion.
Highly gendered names can influence how well you do at school
A study found that boys with masculine names and girls with feminine names were more likely to do well at school. The study also showed that boys with feminine names were more likely to have behavioural problems.
Giving a child a middle name could make people think they are more intelligent
If you’ve ever read an academic paper, you might have noticed the author usually includes middle initials. A study showed that papers in which students had used their middle initials were assumed to be more intelligent, particularly if they had more than one middle initial.
Science aside, baby naming is a subjective thing and there are pros and cons to choosing popular names over more unique names. However, the popularity of a name does seem to matter: the more people like a name the more successful that person might become.
Why not start your baby name search by reviewing some of the most popular baby names. The top ten baby names on the Namey app is a great place to start.