The Perception of Names Jennifer A. Moss Founder & CEO BabyNames.com
It is said that when you meet someone you have 3 seconds to make an impression*. The first thing you do when you meet someone is introduce yourself – you say your name. So, how is your name perceived? Perception of Names * “The First Impression” Carlin Flora, Psychology Today Online, 14 May 2004
BabyNames.com receives over 1.5 million unique visitors a month– Google Analytics, Quantcast The BN staff has worked with over 3,000 parents through the baby name consulting service BabyNames.com continuously hosts naming surveys, which receive thousands of responses Background
Name Consulting Service • 1996: Baby Name Message Boards • 1998: Name Suggestion Service • 2007: Name Consulting Service
While working with parents and the community on our message boards, I found that the perception of names falls into two distinct categories. I then conducted two surveys to see if the two types of perception affect dating and naming children. Perception of Names
Demographics: Gender Quantcast
Demographics: Geography Google Analytics
Demographics: Ethnicity Quantcast
Name Association Personal Perception Public Perception
Name Association Personal Perception Association with people you have personally known throughout your life: family, friends, adversaries, teachers, classmates, co-workers, neighbors
Name Association Public Perception Name identified with a public persona – or the mass perception of a name through celebrity. A public perception of a name can be names of celebrities, politicians, newsmakers, characters, royalty
Name Association Public Perception Names with strong public perception: Kennedy, Scarlett, Angelina, Barack, Miley
Name Association Public Perception and time 1960’s-1970’s 1980’s-1990’s Public perception can be temporal. The name Diana would have a mass association with different people in different decades.
Name Association Public Perception and location Public perception can be geographical. A name of a celebrity can have a public perception in one country, but not another. Kylie (UK) Rain (Korea)
Name Association Isabella #5 - #2 Bella #41 - #26 Alice #171 - #87 Edward #189 - #94 Jasper #179 - #100 Emmett #261 - #127 Esme #494 - #157 Rosalie #506 - #185 Carlisle n/a - #393 Twilight character names have jumped onto and up the charts from 2007–2008 with the popularity of the book series and movie.
Survey 1: Name Association • Over 2,200 respondents • 10 Names surveyed: George, Jessica, Aidan, Jackson, Owen, Hannah, Victoria, Emma, Justin, Alyssa • Asked if they would consider using the name for their baby • Asked if the name reminded them of someone they knew or someone famous • Asked if they had a good or bad association with that name
Survey 1: Name Association • Of those who had a bad association with a name, 95% would notconsider the name for their baby • Of those who had a good association with a name, about 50% would consider the name for their baby • Bad name associations have more of an influence on baby naming than good
Survey 1: Name Association For those who had a good association with a name, they were more likely to consider the name for their child if the association was public. So if they have a personal association with a particular name, even if good, they are less likely to consider it for their child.
Survey 1: Name Association For those who had a bad association with a name, public and personal perception had no bearing on whether they would give the name to their child. The change was minimal--up or down--depending on the name.
Survey 1: Name Association Question: Does a name influence who you’d date?
Survey 2: Names and Dating • 2,955 Respondents • Asked if a name influences who they date • Asked if they would date a person named… (8 names) • Asked again at the end of the survey if a name influences who they date
Survey 2: Names and Dating Beginning of survey: Think about dating (or a time when you were dating). Does a name influence who you'd date?
Survey 2: Names and Dating End of survey: Now we’ll ask you again: does a name influence who you'd date?
Survey 2: Names and Dating Those who date men were asked if they would date someone named… • Adolf (yes: 12.6%, no: 55.1%, maybe: 32.3%) • Jupiter (yes: 27.9%, no: 41.9%, maybe: 30.2%) • Barney (yes: 23.1%, no: 48.2%, maybe: 28.7%) • Muhammad (yes: 25.7%, no: 47.2%, maybe: 27.1%) • Ashley (yes: 44.2%, no: 28.2%, maybe: 27.6%) • Elmo (yes: 20.7%, no: 52.5%, maybe: 26.8%) • De’Shaun (yes: 42.9%, no: 29%, maybe: 28.2%) • Sexany (yes: 16.8%, no: 59.8%, maybe: 23.5%)
Survey 2: Names and Dating Those who date women were asked if they would date someone named… • Angelina (yes: 57.6%, no: 22.4%, maybe: 20%) • Jupiter (yes: 31.8%, no: 44.7%, maybe: 23.5%) • Bertha (yes: 18.8%, no: 64.1%, maybe: 17.1%) • Crystal (yes: 59.4%, no: 24.7%, maybe: 15.9%) • Gertrude (yes: 22.4%, no: 57.1%, maybe: 20.6%) • Wilma (yes: 30.6%, no: 48.8%, maybe: 20.6%) • La’Keisha (yes: 30.6%, no: 44.7%, maybe: 24.7%) • Sexany (yes: 30.6%, no: 52.4%, maybe: 17.16%)
Survey 2: Names and Dating Reactions to dating a man named Ashley: (name with both public and personal association) PERSONAL PERCEPTION: “I have dated men named Ashley and they were both similar, not in a good way. The name does define a person.” “My son's father is named Ashley.” “It would be odd considering my sister's name is Ashley.” PUBLIC PERCEPTION: “There might be a bit of giggling involved when he introduced himself” “People might think I’m dating a girl” “Just like in Gone With the Wind!”
Survey 2: Names and Dating Reactions to the name Adolf: (name with strong public association) “I would think about Adolf Hitler every time I was with him...” “Might have a hard time getting over that one. I would definitely have to get to know him well and meet his parents.” “Too notorious” “I’d give him a nickname to call him in public” “Most people would think I was crazy.” “If he acted like a psychopathic killer then no. But, if he had a good personality...sure why not.” “I would hate to look at the person I love and know that their name was also the name of the worst man to ever exist.”
Survey 2: Names and Dating Reactions to the name Sexany: (name with neither public nor personal association, but definite connotation) “Sounds intriguing” “The name is goofy” “Hell Yeeaaaaah!” “Sounds like a stripper name” “I wouldn't like to call someone that in PUBLIC you know the place with PEOPLE who might stare and be like, did she call that man Sexany?” “Too embarrassing to repeat to future clients” “A little too awkward.”
Survey 2: Names and Dating A public or personal association with a name will most likely factor into our choice of mate.
Names and Characteristics Users were surveyed to attach characteristics to each name in our database.
Angelina: pretty, sexy, intelligent Bertha: big, old-fashioned, unpopular Names and Characteristics Top 3 characteristics assigned to names – listed in our book
Jennifer: pretty, funny, caring Ginnifer: stuck-up, weird, creative Names and Characteristics Alternate spellings of common names may not be a good idea.
A person can perceive a name in two different ways: personally and publicly. Both types of associations have an effect throughout our lives--in choosing a mate and naming a baby. Conclusion
Perception of Names My daughter’s name: Miranda Family surname Shakespeare name
The Perception of Names Jennifer A. Moss For a copy of this presentation and/or the statistics from our surveys, email firstname.lastname@example.org.