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My wife and I have recently been discussing our second son’s name. My wife really likes the name Luke, and actually, so do I. Although, the name Caleb has always appealed to me.
Unfortunately, my wife is not a huge fan. She says she doesn’t like the meaning of Caleb, which means “dog” in Hebrew. Luke, on the other hand, means “light-giving”. Plus, Luke, the “beloved physician,” wrote two books of the Bible. If we went with that name, maybe our son would follow suit and become a doctor!
I tried to counter that Caleb also means “faithful”, but she still lacked interest. I have a feeling that she just doesn’t like the name. So we’ve reached a bit of an impasse with the name situation, but we still have a couple of months to go, so hopefully we can reach a good compromise.
It recently got me thinking about how important a name really is. Does it really make a difference what we name our children?
The overwhelming evidence is yes.
The easier your name is to pronounce the more likable you are. According to Adam Alter of NYU, “When we can process a piece of information more easily, when it’s easier to comprehend, we come to like it more.”
It doesn’t just stop there for adult names in his study. He also found companies with easier to pronounce names and ticker symbols were more likely to trade better than the companies of more difficult-to-pronounce companies.
In a study completed by the American Economics Association, “White-sounding names” received 50% more callbacks for interviews than candidates with “African American-sounding names”. Additionally, the “White-sounding name” candidates received as many callbacks as those with an additional eight years of experience.
Unique vs. Common Names
A Marquette University study revealed that those with unique names were less likable than those with common names. In addition, employers preferred to hire those with common names over those with unique names.
Researchers also found that, regardless of the race of the person, those with unpopular names were more likely to engage in criminal activity. Now before you jump to any conclusions, researchers have some theories about their findings. “Adolescents with unpopular names may be more prone to crime because they are treated differently by their peers, making it more difficult for them to form relationships. Juveniles with unpopular names may also act out because they… dislike their names.” I’m sure these individuals experience a tremendous amount of bullying and ostracism as well.
Other studies also affirm that boys with girls’ names are more likely to be suspended from school. Additionally, the less popular the name of the child, the more likely they are to skip school. In contrast, children with popular names are less likely to get into trouble with the law.
Unique Names- Some Positives!
While there are some downsides of a unique name, there are also some benefits. According to a study by New York University, children with unusual names might be better at controlling their impulses because over the years, they spend much time dealing with people questioning the pronunciation, thus growing in patience. On top of that, a uniquely-named person is more likely to be memorable. When was the last time you met a “Soleil Moon”?
Women in Male-Dominated Fields
When it comes to names, it’s not just unique names and unpopular names that can hold you back. In male-dominated industries, such as engineering and law, women with very feminine names may experience difficulty. In contrast, women with gender-neutral names may be more successful. Additionally, women with more feminine names are less likely to even pursue careers in the fields of math and science.
Grade Point Average
Did you know that the first letter of your name might influence the grade that you achieve in a class? Studies done by researchers, Lief Nelson and Joseph Simmons, have shown that children with a first name that began with C and D were more likely to have lower GPAs than students whose name began with A or B. Why is this? It may be because children with first names beginning with a C or D may not view these letters as negatively and thus might be more comfortable receiving them as grades.
I would like to point out though, that the most common female CEO names include: Carolyn, Cynthia, and Deborah. So clearly not all C and D named individuals are under-achievers!
Of course I will incorporate baseball whenever applicable. In baseball, when a pitcher strikes out, a batter it is recorded in the record books as the letter “K”. Researchers Nelson and Simmons found that on average, batters whose name began with a “K” struck out slightly more often that those players that did not begin with a “K”.
Between a potentially lower GPA and a greater rate of striking out, “Caleb” or even “Kaleb” may no longer be in the running.
Yes, the length of the name matters too.
According to The Ladders, people with first names longer than five letters long lost $3,600 in salary per year, per letter. That might mean that a man who goes by “Christopher” could potentially lose over $850,000 over the course of a 40-year career. Crazy, huh?!
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find much research in the area of name meanings and success, directly. Although, I do believe what you speak over your child is critical. If you choose a name with a strong, positive meaning that you affirm to them, that should only bolster their self-esteem and cause them to be a more successful individual. Just my two cents though.
Am I proving that you are doomed if you have a unique or long name? Not at all. While one may experience some difficulties as a result of his or her name, isn’t much of life about overcoming adversity? I think so. Maybe “Caleb” should be back in the running… 🙂