- Education and Science
The Importance of a Name - How Your Name Affects Your Life
Names Do Matter
Research shows that a person's name matters a lot more than you might think. If you hope your son will be a financial success or your that your daughter will excel at science and math, then read on to learn how their names can influence their lives.
Naming baby used to be easy when it was common practice to name him after Dad James or Granddad John or name her after Grandmother Elizabeth or the Great Aunt Katherine. Now, expectant parents under pressure to find the perfect baby name may look for more unique names, unusual spellings or names that reflect their hobbies, politics, ideals or creativity. Parents may follow trends, name their children after celebrities or just plain make up a name without realizing that they may be affecting the whole future of their child by their choice.
So how do names affect the child as he or she enters school makes his/her way through life? Some interesting research on the subject shows that names do matter!
Help Steer Your Child Towards Financial Success
Research by Lee McPheters, at the W.P. Carey School of business at Arizona State University came up with some surprising facts. It seems that six common names are prevalent among Phoenix’s highest-paid CEO’s.What are these magic names? Robert, John, Steve, Richard, Donald and William.These six names make up only 15% of births during the period studied, but make up 35% of the CEO’s.
It’s interesting to note that the name James is not on the popular list of six, even though it is consistently the most popular name for male babies.
Now, I’m very happy that my parents inadvertently named my brother Robert and, without benefit of Dr. McPheters research, my grandson was named Stephen. But it weighs on my conscience that not one of my three sons has one of the top six names.Oh, what have I done!
Want to Give Your Child a Unique Name? Consider This:
In other research on baby names, Dr. Robert Needlman found that boys with unusual first names seemed to have more emotional problems than boys with traditional names. The question is, were the boys’ problems a result of having strange names or the result of have parents who would saddle their kids with strange names? The research does not show that girls are affected in the same way.
While a child with an unusual name or unusual spelling of a common name will stand out in an internet search, studies have shown that people with easy to pronounce names are more likely to advance in their careers.
A Boy Named Sue is No Joke!
To add to the guilt, David Figlio of Northwestern University has shown that a name chosen for a child can have long lasting effects. In particular, boys who are given androgynous names, or names that might also be a girl’s name (Tracey, Kelly, Leslie, Dale, Chris, etc.), might display behavioral problems when classmates realized that the name could be either a boy’s or girl’s name and teasing began. Dr. Albert Mehrabian’s studies on the effects of names found that men with androgynous names might be thought of as more fun, but less masculine while women with androgynous names were considered to be less feminine.
So the well-known song sung by Johnny Cash, “A Boy Named Sue” is not really a joke. The poor guy went all his life with a chip on his shoulder, picking a fight with anyone who dared look at him cross-wise or smile at his name. At the end of the song, he declares, “If I have a son…. I’ll name him Bill or George, anything but SUE!”
Want Your Daughter To Be a Scientist?
In the U.K., the Apr. 2007 edition of The Observer by Anushka Asthana, education correspondent reported on an interesting study of girls names. It seems that girls with very feminine names (feminine names determined by linguistics studies) were less likely to study higher levels of maths and sciences than girls with names that are considered to be less feminine. It has been shown to be so strong that when parents named twin daughters, one with a very feminine name like Isabella and the other with a less feminine name like Alex, Alex was twice as likely as her twin to take math and science at a higher level. David Figlio, professor of economics at the University of Florida and the author of the report says that names are often typecast. Girls with very feminine names like Elizabeth, Anna, Isabella, or Emma are treated differently. These girls are not any less capable, but might be made to feel pressure to avoid “hard” subjects. When they do take on science or math, they perform just as well.
Successful Female Lawyers More Likely To Have Masculine Names
Bentley Coffey, and economist at Clemson University, studied female success in the legal profession and found that women lawyers with traditionally male names were more likely to be successful lawyers. And, they were three times more likely to become judges than women lawyers with feminine names. A follow up study also showed that women with male sounding names were likely to make more money than their counterparts with female sounding names.
Interesting Links to Name Facts
Top Three Boys and Girls Names in the 1st Decade of the 2000s:
Boys: Jacob, Michael, Joshua
Girls: Emily, Madison, Emma
From the Social Security Administration List of Top 200 Names: http://www.ssa.gov/oact/babynames/decades/names2000s.html
Popular Names by State: http://ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/state/index.html
Popular Names by Decade: See where your name ranked in popularity the year you were born by clicking this link: http://ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/decades/index.html
Are You a Shopaholic? Blame Your Name!
Last names are not exempt from examination, either. Kurt A. Carlson, of Georgetown McDonough School of Business, and Jacqueline M. Conard, Belmont University Massey Graduate School of Business studied the effects on adults of alphabetic placement by last name. They found that people whose last names began with the latter part of the alphabet (R through Z) responded differently to sales people than those whose names began with the first part of the alphabet.
People with last names with letters towards the end of the alphabet are quicker to buy. Called “the last name effect," it seems to be caused by years of being at the end of the line and being seated in the back of the room and being called last to go to lunch. As adults, those R-Zs have learned to jump at opportunities quickly or they might miss out.
Not Getting the Recognition You Deserve? Maybe It's Your Name.
Another examination of success in the academic world found that academicians whose last names began with letters in the first part of the alphabet received tenure faster and received more awards. Why? Because when papers are published, the co-authors are listed alphabetically and the writer whose name showed up first in the authorship credits was the most recognized. So Professor Brown is more likely to be recognized than Professor White.
It would be interesting to know if people whose last names began with the last letters of the alphabet were more patient than others as a result of those years of being the last in line, the back of the room and the last to be called upon. Maybe this also contributed to their self esteem?
The Letters of the Alphabet and Your Self-Esteem.
Do you have a special affinity for certain letters of the alphabet? It’s no coincidence if you do. In a study of people’s reactions to letters of the alphabet, it was discovered that people with high self-esteem liked the letters that appeared in their names. They especially liked the first letter of their first names. Those with low self-esteem preferred other letters.
Love Your Name or Hate Your Name
As for me, I love my name because it was unique during the decade I was born. In fact, my name was number 191 in popularity at that time. I never met another Stephanie until I was an adult. So I was never the CEO of a company or a scientist, but my name fit me...or did I fit my name? Hmmm....
So how do you feel about your name? Do you love it or hate it, wish it were more unique or more like everyone else's? Do you like the first letter of your first name? Are you a CEO with the name of Robert or Roberta? Are you a mathematician named Alex? Did the kids tease you because your name is very unusual? Do you love your name because it's different or hate it because no one spells it correctly?
This article Copyright ©2011 by Stephanie Henkel
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