Blame Your Name
/ Author: CLAC Staff
/ Categories: Guide magazine /
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Blame Your Name

What's in a name? Apparently a lot.

According to research out of Syracuse University, your name shapes the way other people perceive your age, personality, and how good you are at your job—before they even meet you in person. 

Participants from four different regions of the US were asked to rate a large sample of names in terms of perceived age, warmth, and competence. What researchers found was that when it came to high warmth but low competence, participants tended to choose female names, and names associated with high competence but low warmth tended to be male, showing a troubling gender bias. 

They also found that those with classic, simple names (David, Elizabeth, Grace) were viewed more favourably in hiring processes, and were more successful in their careers overall, than those with unusual or difficult names to pronounce (Muffin, Malachi, Clementine). 

“The fact that gender, age, and race, all seem to affect name bias is depressing, but thankfully it isn’t always the whole story,” says researcher Leonard Newman. “An unpopular or unusual name doesn’t necessarily mean your destiny is sealed. Many years ago, my parents came to visit me in Chicago and I pointed out signs for a local politician who was running. I told them, ‘he’s very appealing, he’s going to go far,’ and they laughed at me and said, ‘I don’t think he’ll go very far in American politics with a name like Barack Hussein Obama.’ Obviously, they were wrong.”

6 Names Rated with High Competence

1. David
2. Elizabeth
3. John
4. Grace
5. William
6. Sophie 

6 Names Rated with Low Competence

1. Bryce
2. Vicki
3. Duane
4. Crystal
5. Roy
6. Brittany 


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