Names – How Important Is Your Name?

Do People’s Names Really Matter?

Do people's names affect their lives and personality?

Do you have many friends and acquaintances whose names seem to fit them exactly?

And do you know others that wish they’d be given a different name?

Do some people’s names have a special click for you whilst others turn you off?

Recent Research Suggests That Names Are Important

People walk around with stereotypes in their heads that can influence all sorts of decisions, yet don’t even realize it, says psychologist Richard Wiseman, who conducted a recent research into the meaning of names.

The research suggests that we have strong perceptions about first names and associate them with success, luck and attractiveness.

And our perceptions clearly have very real consequences in our everyday life.

Richard Wiseman (a great name?) asked more than 6,000 people about their perceptions of the most popular first names in the UK over the past decade, along with those in recent years.

Which Names Came Out Tops?

Elizabeth and James were considered the most successful sounding first names.

Lucy and Jack the luckiest.

And Sophie and Ryan the most attractive.

Names Do Have An Impact

"A name certainly plays more of a part than we think".

"While many factors influence how we view a name, from liking a successful actor to disliking your boss, these perceptions can have a very real impact".

"Past research has shown that such perceptions can become self-fulfilling prophesies, with teachers giving higher marks to children with attractive names and employers being more likely to promote those who sound successful".

says Dr Wiseman.

Name Styles And Perceptions

Do you identify with the following Baker variations?

John Baker

Simplest and least formal because it suggests a no frills attitude and has a kind of plain folks appeal.

John William Baker

Says the person wants to be noticed.

Suggests seriousness.

Suggests having nothing to hide.

John W. Baker

Suggests maturity and a solid, conservative personality.

The middle initial implies a fullness and completeness without the flamboyance of using the middle name in full.

It creates a sense of mystery, especially in women.

It’s a style used by almost half of the men in the United States and by many women too.

J. W. Baker

A favorite of the British and suggests being reserved and standoffish.

Creates a sense of mystery and offers no hints about gender.

J. William Baker

Suggests high self-opinion and vanity, and especially when the middle name is uncommon.

J. Baker

Implies a feeling of insignificance.

Creates confusion and gender ambiguity.


I always used Michael P. Redbourn

I believe this is an interesting and important subject and your comments and feedback are very welcome.

And you don’t need to login to post them.

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8 Responses to Names – How Important Is Your Name?

  1. miss skeptic says:

    Of course a name affects how a person gets treated!

    And if you have any doubts then just take a look at this

    And just imagine what a name like mine does to people!

  2. pasifism-wins says:

    According to the Bible, when God changed a person’s name and gave them a new one, it was usually to establish a new identity.

    God changed Abram’s "high father" name to Abraham "father of multitude" (Genesis 17:5) and his wife’s name from Sarai “my princess,” to Sarah “mother of nations” (Genesis 17:15) and we know from history that the descendants of Abraham and Sarah formed many nations, including the Jews and Muslims.

    God changed Jacob’s "supplanter" name to Israel “having power with God” (Genesis 32:28) and He changed Simon’s "God has heard" name to Peter "rock" (John 1:42).

    Why did Jesus occasionally call Peter “Simon” after He had changed His name to Peter?

    Probably because Simon sometimes acted like his old self instead of the rock God called him to be.

    The same is most likely true for Jacob since. God continued to call him Jacob in order to remind him of his past, and to remind him to depend on God’s strength.

    So it would seem safe to assume that a person’s name is very important!

  3. knopfman says:

    Just to make it very clear how very important a name is, just check out this list and see which company you’d most likely buy from:

    AOL (America Online) – - – - Quantum Computer Services (old name).

    Google – - – - BackRub (old name).

    Pepsi-Cola – - – - Brad’s Drink (old name).

    IBM – - – - Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation (old name).

    SEGA – - – - Service Game Company (old name).

    Sony – - – - Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo K.K (old name).

    Sprint – - – - Brown Telephone Company (old name).

    Yahoo – - – - Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web (old name).

    And the above are obviously just a few.

    So please don’t call your next child, Turkey, Dork or Hitler etc. because you’ll cause him major grief until he’s old enough to change it; if he’s still sane enough to do it!

  4. big-thoughts says:

    What’s in a name?

    In one widely quoted study in the Journal of Educational Psychology, experienced elementary school teachers were asked to grade a set of paragraphs written by 10th graders entitled "What I Did Last Sunday".

    Eight different paragraphs were used, all about average in quality and attached to these essays were eight different names;

    Four of them,

    Karen, Lisa, David, and Michael were rated as "desirable" by both students and teachers.

    And the other four,

    Bertha, Adelle, Hubert, and Elmer were rated as "undesirable".

    The names were attached to the papers at random so that, for example, one paper that was labeled as written by Adelle one time was attributed to Karen or Lisa at other times.

    The Outcome?

    Although the teachers were given identical papers, with only the names being different, they gave significantly higher grades to the papers supposedly written by the students with the desirable names.

    It should be noted however, that when the same experiment was repeated using college students as the graders, the ‘name effect’ did not occur, which suggest that the teachers had built up stereotyped expectations about children’s names, whereas the college students who had no teaching experience did not have either the expectations or biases.

  5. donald-drake says:

    A recent report from the School of Business at Arizona State University shows that the names of top CEOs in Phoenix come from a disproportionately small group of names, which suggests that certain names are more likely to lead to greater success.

    The three most successful names in the study group were Robert, John, and Steve.

    And I intend to change my name to Robert John Steve Drake, as quickly as possible :D

  6. peterson says:

    One of the most common uses of traditional names is to name a son after the father and to use “Jr.” as part of the son’s name.

    Although there might well be practical problems in differentiating between a father and son, especially if both happen to be well known, the real difficulty lies in the son’s feeling of sharing an identity with someone else or of having to compete with his father for recognition as an individual.

    This, apparently, was the experience of the well-known American novelist, Henry James, as Leon Edel relates in his biography of the writer.

    According to Edel, “Throughout his life, Henry freqently protested against the parental failure to let him have a distinctive name and (by the same token) an identity of his own.”

    James and his father were both well known and occasionally even wrote for the same issue of The Atlantic Monthly.

    As a young man, James used “Jr.” as a prominent part of his signature, sometimes even spelling out the word rather than using the abbreviation but as his own career progressed and his fame increased, the “Jr.” became less and less legible and was finally spelled with a lower-case “j”‘

    Edel speculates that the younger James thereby asserted his own identity by gradually, and perhaps unconsciously, de-emphasizing the part of his name that signified his “lesser” status.

  7. Reg Spragg says:

    Names are very important, take a stroll around any UK school and have a look at the register.

    “Celebrity” of the hour inspired hyphenated “labels” in the main, usually spelt incorrectly (“parent(s)” ignorance or wanting to be even more “chav” like) this usually coupled with a double barrelled surname (which changes regularly )to reflect the mother’s sexual allegiance.

    Saying this, we are also seeing an increase in the old names, even biblical, as the more intelligent families think about how their child would fare when older with an odd label.

    As to names and stereotyping, I know a few Ian’s who are either wet or total idiots, usually both.

    Did you know that any name ending in “el” is Hebrew?

    • Michael Redbourn says:

      Did you know that any name ending in “el” is Hebrew?

      No I didn’t know that, but I did know that ‘el’ means ‘God’ in Hebrew.

      And thanks for the info