Researchers: Name can affect life chances

Jan. 7, 2012 at 5:11 PM
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BERLIN, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- A name that others associate with bad qualities can have effects throughout adult life, German researchers say.

In a study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, the researchers report on what they found using responses to profiles on a European online dating service, Postmedia News in Canada reported. Wiebke Neberich, a former associate with the International Max Planck Research School, said the group wanted to find the consequences of name "valence" or associations.

"It's a mostly unconscious process where all the associations we have with a particular name will pop up: from the newspapers, from stories and, of course, from our own history," Neberich said.

The researchers found that in Germany names with "positive valence" like Alexander got a much better response than those with "negative valence" like Kevin. The number of people responding to the Alexanders was double that of the Kevins.

The researchers cautioned different cultures value different names. Kevins might do far better in the United States or Ireland.

But they also warned parents to be careful when they name their babies. The team said names can affect education, relationship chances and self-esteem.

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