Is there any correlation between first names and personality?

A coupla days ago, I started a lighthearted thread in IMHO called Do you know any bad Jennys?. The thrust was that I know a lot of Jennifers and, to a woman, they are all sweet, considerate people.
It was a fluff thread, but it got me thinking. Is there any correlation between names and personality? I think it is possible - we are all heavily influenced by social forces, and certain names definitely have heavy stereotypes attached to them. (Think “Poindexter”). Have any studies been done that associate whether the stereotypes of certain names have any impact on the persons with those names?

I tried a search - guess how many responses I got that had nothing to do with my question? [Sagan voice] billlyuns and billlyuns[/Sagan voice]


Anecdotal evidence - I’ve heard of this man named Susan who turned into one tough hombre.

Well, I certainly know one BITCH of a Jenny. Actually it is a Jennie, pronounced the same way. Does that count?

I haven’t heard of any studies on the subject but if someone does I’d be interested in hearing about it. My first name is Denise, which is derivative of Dionysius, Greek god of wine and revelry. I’m not like that, at least not very often.

Would susoect the correlation is weak, and for the Velveeta reasons I said in the first thread. I think this is largely a selective memory thing; who remembers passing the street lights that don’t go out?

Here is a website that tells you what personality your child will have based on his or her first name. I’m not sure how scientific it is, but it was the Cruel Site of the Day a couple of weeks ago.

It is uncanny how people know it’s like the dad says after seeing his newborn daughter for the first time

“Oh Honey she’s beautiful, let’s call her Tiffany.”

“Nope sorry dear this one’s gonna be a porker, we better call her Bertha.”

On a related note, there definitely seemed to be a correlation between name and major when i was in undergrad.
It seemed like 20% of the students in the physics department were named Robert (perhaps a slight exageration, but no more than slight) while all the Mikes ended up in EE.
Didn’t seem to hold in grad school. Oh well, another beutiful hypothesis…

I doubt there is any solid scientific evidence, because aside from really extreme cases (like naming a kid “Nosmo King”) the associations names have for different people is so arbitrary (to me, the name Clarice is a pretty-sounding classy name…to others, it’s a horrible name because of the “Hannibal” connection), and popular names change quickly as fashions come and go.

Also, it’s hard to jump from correlating two things to saying one causes another. The kind of person who would name their kid “Kerstyl Wyndsong Smith” is probably going to be a different type of parent than a person who calls their kid “John Michael Smith” in more ways than the name itself. I imagine the only way to prove a connection would be if an experimenter was somehow able to “randomly select” kids to be named either weird or normal things. :slight_smile:

I have a pretty unconventional name. An old-fashioned name spelled in a strange way. I have NEVER met anyone else with my exact name and even people with the “normal” spelling of my name are rare. I regard myself as a bit of an eccentric and non-conformist. However, the name was definitely not the only “weird” part of my childhood, so who knows how much it influenced me?
I would certainly speculate that, IN GENERAL, people with names that are considered “weird” within their social group are affected to some extent. I suspect someone who is continually separated from the “crowd” (for their unusual name or any other reason) tends to either A) become neurotic about “fitting in” or B) learns to “do their own thing” and disregard peer pressure (naturally, I am aiming more for option B myself)

My friend Dick sincerely hopes the answer is “no.”

According to the Kabalarian Society, one’s mental characteristics, state of well-being, and
experiences in life are shown to be determined by one’s name, which incorporates the specific forces of
intelligence in the mind of the individual. It’s an interesting site to surf through, anyway.

The only non-Kabalarian ideas I’ve seen on the subject tend to echo spathiphyllum’s post on unique names having some effect on one’s personality. The study I read about mentioned that women tend to be higher achievers when they have a unique name, and men tend to do better when they have a common name. As with most studies, it was probably disputed later, but I don’t know.

My first name is Kora, and I rarely meet other people with my name, and so far no one who spells it with a K. Also, I never find personalized items unless they are made just for me. It’s possible that has reinforced my feelings of uniqueness.

I am 21 years old with a name from a previous century. I don’t know anyone my own age with my name, and many people I know say “Hey, that’s my grandmother’s name!”

My name has probably played an important part in the development of my personality. I’ve grown up unconventional and odd. I don’t like to play by the rules. I think perhaps my odd name might have a bit to do with that.

I read a serious study a couple years ago that found evidence that your initials had some effect on your personality. As a recall it had a much greater effect on boys than girls, but boys with initials like ACE were more extroverted than DIMs ASSs or DUHs. I’ll try to find it again.

It seems possible to me that certain “types” of parents are more likely to choose certain names. And their personal makeup might affect the way they raise the child, as well as a possible genetic contribution, which might affect personality. I would assume, of course, that any affect would be quite minimal.

I wonder if there are any studies as to what types of parents choose what types of names. For example, could you generalize that a person with different experiences and aspirations might name his son Clint, than Percival. And might those parental differences result in different influences on the growing child.

Another possibility is, do peers react differently to different names? Do some names invite ridicule, while others are accepted as leaders?

Re the OP, every Jenny I have known has been mulish.

One other way to think about this is the effect your name has on how other’s approach you. For example, if my name was “El Schmucko”, people would probably approach you differently than if your name was “William.” I think that your personality would be affected by whom/what types of people approach you based on their perceptions of your name.

Oops, sorry about the mid-sentence transition from first to second-person. The thought is there though.

Sua, I have a book, “You are your first Name”, to test this, I flipped around the book & choose a name & see how it fit me description wise. None of them did. But then read my own & it fit very well. Tried this with some other people.

Doesn’t seem very scientific but what a cool book.

I have read somewhere that individuals that have odd, strange, or unusual names tend to seek psychiatric help significantly more often than individuals who have more common names.

I think it’s a little bit of both the type of parent you have, and the way people react to you. Plus, nicknames, or lack of, seem to develop in accordance to your personality.

I do find that a lot of people with unusual names tend to pick normal names for their kids, and people with normal names tend to pick unusual names for their kids. This is not scientific or a hard and fast rule, but a trend I’ve noticed. If you’ve spent your whole life spelling and explaining your name, sometimes you don’t want to curse your child with that as well. Many times I thought being named Jane Smith might be preferable to having a first name with an odd spelling, and a last name that doesn’t sound the way it’s spelled. Three of my four kids have very normal first names.

There were 39 seniors in my small-college graduating class. Sixteen were named John and seven us us were named Thomas. We ran the gamut from just odd-ball to truly weird. (We even had a couple of guys who could pass for normal.) However, we very much did not have cookie-cutter or easily exchanged personalities.

I suspect, as others have noted, that naming a child Tall Reed Of Hemp Growing Toward The Sky In The Summer Sun will have an effect on the child’s personality. Beyond that, there are far too many variables to make a prediction.

(I would also say that most of the women and girls I have known named Jenny tended to be sweet, but that there were a couple of nasty bitches in there, as well.)