What’s in a name? More than you think, experts say

July 11, 2013 6:05 am


Whatever the chosen name, we already know the new royal baby will be called "His/Her Royal Highness Prince/Princess (name) of Cambridge"/FILE
Whatever the chosen name, we already know the new royal baby will be called “His/Her Royal Highness Prince/Princess (name) of Cambridge”/FILE
PARIS, Jul 11 – As Prince William and wife Catherine mull over names for their royal offspring, they would do well to heed mounting evidence that a name can influence everything from your school grades and career choice to who you marry and where you live.

Someone named Jacqueline or Steven will generally fare better in life than Latrina or Butch, say researchers, who also point to a phenomenon whereby the world’s fastest man is called Bolt, a TV weather forecaster Sarah Blizzard, and the local librarian Mrs Storey.

“Your name can influence the assumptions that other people make about your character and background, and thus the chances you are given in life,” says Richard Wiseman — a case in point, he’s a professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire.

“It can also be a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. If your name sounds intelligent, successful and attractive, you are more likely to act those things.”

A flurry of studies in recent years have examined names as predictors of success.

They found that girls with perceived “feminine” names like Isabella or Kayla are less likely to pursue maths or science than those named Taylor or Madison, and that pupils with perceived “lower status” names get worse grades than others from the same background but with posher names.

“Names can really make a difference in children’s lives,” Northwestern University researcher David Figlio, who has written several papers on the topic, told AFP.

Research has pointed to a clear, though probably subconscious, tendency for people to prefer things that resemble themselves — including the letters of their names.

Denises are more likely to become dentists than dermatologists, while Lawrences are overrepresented among lawyers and Raymonds among radiologists.

The term “nominative determinism” was coined by the journal New Scientist in 1994, which cited a paper on urinary incontinence by authors Splatt and Weedon.

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