Juliet argued pretty effectively that there is virtually nothing "in a name," but the Montague family begged to differ -- and a look at today's media coverage surrounding the birth of Jay Z and Beyonce's baby "Blue Ivy Carter," with media outlets analyzing the hidden meanings of Beyonce's baby's name -- suggests not much has changed. A new study from Berlin's Humboldt University set out to find just exactly what is in a name and what repercussions it can have in a person's life.
As it turns out, what you're called may determine everything from your self esteem to whether or not you can score a date. The study took data from 47,610 members of German language dating website eDarling and monitored interest in 968 online daters with first names on the "Kube list" -- a list of culturally devalued first names like Kevin and Chantal -- and compared them to site members with more prized names, like Jacob and Charlotte. The Kube list was created in 2009 when Julia Kube of the University of Oldenburg found that teachers perceived children with specific names associated with low social and economic status in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland as less intelligent and less likely to succeed than those with positive names pre-selected by Kube.
eDarling members are required to fill out a profile by answering questions about their self-esteem, whether or not they smoke and their educational background. The site then sends members match suggestions that display only the first name, age and hometown of prospective dates -- no photos or other information was provided -- and members can then choose to either click on the profile if interested or opt to ignore the candidate. Since users are only shown prospective partners in their preferred age and location range, the suggested match's name is their main source of differentiation, the study's authors argue.
Results suggested that it's not just teachers who are prejudiced against Kevins and Chantals; potential dates were scared off, too. People whose names carried lower socio-economic associations on the Kube scale were more likely to be ignored. In contrast, the study authors found "participants with the most positive name (Jakob) received 90 percent more first visits on their dating profile (relative to opportunity) than participants with the most negative name (Kevin)!" The researchers conclude: "German-speaking singles apparently prefer to remain single (and continue paying for online-dating) over looking at the profile of potential partners with "Kevinism" names."
The Daily Mail reports that the most successful names for online daters in the study were Jacob, Alexander, Charlotte, Emma, Hannah, Max, Marie, Peter and Mark, while the names that led to the least success were Kevin, Justin, Marvin, Dennis, Mandy, Celina, Chantal and Jacqueline, and showed that less desirable names were correlated with self-reported lower education levels, smoking and low self-esteem -- suggesting their may be something to those stereotypes.
This generalization clearly doesn't apply to all the Mandys and Kevins in the world; Just ask Mandy Appleyard, who spoke up for her name in The Daily Mail, writing:
Mandys don't become neuro-physicists or Nobel prize winners. We run laundrettes or take coach tours to the Costas.
As a child, I used to fantasise about being a Sasha or a Charlotte. I imagined I had been born into aristocracy, and lived in a fairytale castle with a pony in the paddock. But then life happened. I grew up, got to know myself, lost those girlhood pretensions and came to treasure my roots, my family -- and my moniker.
So now I believe 'Mandy' fits me perfectly. It is not sophisticated and nor am I. It is not aspirational and nor am I ... Most importantly, I love the two people who chose my name.
Since 78 percent of US Weekly readers felt the need to publicly dislike Jay-Z and Beyonce's baby daughter's name, Blue Ivy, we're hoping this little girl grows up to buck the trend of unpopular names leading to low self-esteem and love herself -- even if the rest of the world doesn't love her name.
We want to know: If you haven't always loved your name, how did you grow to love it? Do you feel held back by your name?
Follow Jessica Pearce Rotondi on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jessicarotondi