Would a Rose, by any other name, smell just a sweet? Perhaps Rose’s parents would think so. They obviously have very positive associations with the name that brings to mind a beautiful flower. Other people may not look upon her name quite so favorably. Research suggests that a person’s name shapes the course of his or her life.
Parents have so many factors to consider when choosing a name for a new baby. Should you name the baby after a relative? Would a name that is currently cool be a good idea? How about a name that reflects your family’s ethnicity or heritage?
Research indicates some things that could cause parents some anxiety as they try and decide upon a name for their new baby. A name can have an impact on a child’s entire future. Parents should consider the potential implications that a name has before they bestow it upon their child.
There is a well known study that was done by Marianne Bertrand and Sendhil Mullainathan in 2004. In short, they kept track of how many call-backs for employment people got based upon their name. They found that job applicants with African-American names got far fewer call-backs than did job applicants with names that were not perceived as being an African-American name.
There are some unusual names that people view as indicating that the person was born into inherited privilege. University of Chicago political scientist Eric Oliver noted that educated mothers tend to choose common names for their babies. They don’t generally go for unusual baby names.
However, highly educated parents, who were also liberals, tended to choose names like Una, Archimedes, or Emerson. It is as though these names were intended to announce that the person is culturally superior to others (or, at least, that his or her parents think that they are).
Another thing to be aware of when they select a name for your baby is the results of research that was done by San Diego State University’s Jean Twenge. He noticed that people who like the letters in their name tend to have high self-esteem, while people who dislike the letters in their name had low self-esteem. Which came first, the low self-esteem, or the realization that a person doesn’t like his or her name? That’s not so easy to discern.
Before you panic about accidentally selecting a name for your baby that comes with disastrous results, there is something to consider. The impact of a person’s name tends to have a significant influence when the only thing that is known about a person is his or her name. Once people see a photo of the person, discover their personality, or otherwise get to know them, the name isn’t as important.
Image by Helga Webber on Flickr.