Baby names subject to 'momentum'

Oct. 14, 2009 at 1:43 AM

NEW YORK, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- U.S. parents, like momentum traders in the stock market, appear to favor names that have recently risen in popularity, not those in decline, researchers say.

Todd Gureckis of New York University and Robert Goldstone of Indiana University say the findings were based on a historical record of the frequency with which particular names were given to babies during the last 127 years in the United States, based on data provided by the Social Security Administration.

"Our results give support to the idea that individual naming choices are in a large part determined by the social environment that expecting parents experience," the study authors say in a statement. "Like the stock market, cycles of boom and bust appear to arise out of the interactions of a large set of agents who are continually influencing one another."

By sorting through names and watching the way they rise and fall in popularity over time, the authors note that many names appear to take surprisingly smooth trajectories through time, such that increasing popularity one year is often associated with increasing popularity the next.

The study, published in the journal Topics in Cognitive Science, finds the trend has become more pronounced over the years.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more news from UPI.com
Related UPI Stories
Trending Stories