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Do you look like your name? Survey says yes

"The demonstration of our name being manifested in our facial appearance illustrates the great power that a social factor can have," said researcher Ruth Mayo.

By Brooks Hays
Do you look like your name? Survey says yes
In a study, people were able to guess a stranger's name from four choices, based on only their face, with a 38 percent success rate -- better than 25 percent random odds. Photo by Hebrew University/Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Feb. 27 (UPI) -- You are what you eat, and apparently, you are what you're called, too. New research suggests people's faces resemble their names.

Researchers at Hebrew University of Jerusalem wanted to find out if a person's name -- and related social expectations -- can influence their facial appearance. The research team decided to start by looking at the relationship between a person's name and their face.

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Their findings -- detailed in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology -- suggest people look like their name.

Researchers had study participants look at photos of people's faces and guess each person's name from a list including four options. Respondents correctly guessed the person's name 38 percent of the time, better than the 25 percent rate of a random one-in-four guess -- a rate of success scientists say is statistically significant.

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The results held true even when researchers controlled for age and ethnicity.

"Our research demonstrates that indeed people do look like their name," psychologist Ruth Mayo said in a news release. "Furthermore, we suggest this happens because of a process of self-fulfilling prophecy, as we become what other people expect us to become."

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Name-guessers also beat the odds when they were asked to guess the person's name based only on an image revealing their hairstyle.

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Humans weren't the only capable name-guessers. A computer algorithm designed by scientists at Hebrew University was also able to correctly match name to face.

Previous studies have shown gender and race stereotypes affect a person's appearance. Researchers hypothesize the impact of a person's name affects appearance in similar ways.

"A name is an external social factor, different from other social factors such as gender or ethnicity, therefore representing an ultimate social tag," Mayo said. "The demonstration of our name being manifested in our facial appearance illustrates the great power that a social factor can have on our identity, potentially influencing even the way we look."

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