Does your given name affect your life?


Fact Box

Bre (Yes)

Shakespeare's Juliet once mused, 'What's in a name?' We know today, it's more than one might think. Not only has given names been shown to influence the way others view us, but it also impacts the way we view ourselves, the choices we make, and our success in life.

First names can shape how others interpret our personality, age, and capabilities. Biases have been established regarding class, age, gender, race, culture, and religion, all based on names alone. Beyond proven hiring discrimination, names can steer where we choose to live, our selected partners, and the professions to which we're drawn. For example, men with the name Louis are over-represented in the state of Louisiana, and being called Georgia makes a woman more likely to move to Georgia. Moreover, due to a psychological phenomenon known as 'implicit egotism,' we are more attracted romantically to those with similar names to our own. Interestingly, a correlation exists between success and those with surnames closer to the beginning of the alphabet.

Certain names are clearly shown to make various facets of life easier or more challenging. Increased neuroticism and anxiety have been linked to less common names, whereas more attractive names are associated with heightened exuberance. Unusual names have even been shown to increase the likelihood of psychotic diagnoses, and later the person committing crime. For those who dislike their own names, psychological adjustment is negatively impacted. Even our physicality may be altered according to our given names.

Overall, research indicates that those with common, easy to pronounce, gender-neutral names may be better positioned for achievements and fulfillment in various aspects of life.

Maha (No)

An individual's name is an important part of their identity. However, claiming that it can affect their lives may be a stretch for several reasons. 

When it comes to choosing names, 57% of American parents choose girl names that reflect femininity and boy names related to strength. Despite this, a given name can't determine someone's gender. That's why the majority of transgender individuals change their names

A person's name also doesn't determine their destiny. While some celebrities choose stage names to make a flashier entrance to the entertainment industry, they may not change their given names. In such cases, which name would they likely attribute their success? Besides, there is very little evidence that people who change their names experience changes in their lives. 

While formerly known as Bruce Jenner, Caitlyn Jenner achieved a world record in the men's decathlon at the 1976 Olympic Games. Her fame didn't dwindle after her name change, a fact proven by several achievements, including being chosen as 2015 Time's Person of the Year Runner-Up. If anything, a person's given name may reveal more about their parents or guardians since they chose it. For instance, a 2013 study showed that parents' political ideology influences their children's names. Liberals for example may prefer to choose uncommon, vintage, or unique names to reflect 'their sense of cultural superiority.' 

Finally, it's hard to consider theories as facts when they change regularly. Take unique names, for example. Researchers are still confused as to whether they make individuals more likely to become lonely school dropouts or extremely desirable. Besides, if anything, an individual's way of thinking is what determines their success. So, that should be their focus instead.  

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