Category: baby name research
By Laurie Scheuble
I have been working on marital naming research for 25 years. I study what names women choose when they marry and what surname they give their children.
Twenty-five years ago, I would have predicted that at least a quarter of women in the United States would keep their maiden name as their last name when they marry. I expected this because there was a tremendous amount of social change occurring and an expectation of equity in the treatment of women was becoming the social norm. On the contrary, the most recent data shows that only about 9% of women do keep their maiden names or hyphenate them with their husband’s last name when they marry.
By David Sidhu
Guest blogger David Sidhu shares some of his fascinating research on the personality traits people associate with certain names. And if you’d like to delve further into the subject, he’s provided some references at the end.
What’s in a name? Is there any scientific reason to expect that we might associate certain kinds of information with a name, based on the way it sounds or feels to pronounce? Yes! It seems that certain kinds of names are associated with not only particular shapes, but also personality traits!
But, before we get to names, we have to take a few steps back, to 1929, when Wolfgang Köhler first claimed that certain made up words (or “nonwords”) might go along better with certain shapes. He suggested that if people were presented with two shapes: a round one and a spiky one, and told that one was a “baluma” and one was a “takete,” everyone would naturally pair “baluma” with the round shape and “takete” with the sharp shape. His assertion has since been demonstrated experimentally a number of different times: people associate nonwords like “bouba”, “maluma” or “luna” with round shapes; and nonwords like “kiki”, “teetay” or “paka” with sharp shapes. This has come to be known as the “Bouba/Kiki Effect.”
When my husband announced the birth of our first child to my family last June, they were convinced, thanks to a bad cell phone connection, that we had named our daughter Tetra. My dad Googled the tropical fish, and my brother, who was wielding a video camera, performed a dramatic zoom on its Wikipedia page.
In the two confused minutes it took to convey that the baby’s name was actually Petra, my grandmother had started to come around to Tetra, which just goes to show that even the staunchest traditionalist can accept the weirdest baby name, as long as it’s attached to someone tiny, adorable, and genetically related to her.
A names – those that start with the letter A – have become the most widely used in the U.S., given to over 10 percent of all babies, more than double the proportion of children who were given A names in the 1950s.
You can peg the popularity of A names to pure fashion, and definitely, A names ranging from the classic Abigail and Alexander to the trendy Addison and Aiden have been on the rise for a couple of decades now. While this may be part of an overall trend toward vowel names, which are up across the board while most consonant-starting names are trending down, A is up the highest.
But there’s evidence that A names may be beneficial for your child in more substantial ways. A study by researchers at Yale and the University of California-San Diego found that students whose names begin with the letters A and B earn better grade point averages than those whose names start with C or D. And more law school students named Anna and Andrew tend to go to top-ranked universities like Stanford than those called Chris and Drew.
Even more significant, another study suggests that people with A names live longer – in some cases, as much as a decade longer – than those whose names start with the letter D. Scary, but compelling if you want to give your child every advantage in life.
We realize a lot of people come to nameberry to help make their first baby-naming decision, but today we’d like to hear from those parents who’ve already named one or more children with our new baby name survey.
What factors influenced your name choice? Whose advice did you take? How did you finally settle on “the one”?
We’ll be following this up with questions about your opinions on middle names, nicknames, sibling names, etc.
CLICK HERE TO START Part 1 of the baby name survey. We’ll be reporting on the results soon.
THANKS for participating!!