Thursday, January 16, 2014

What you name your child could help him choose his career

When I was in eighth grade, my classmate B.J. asked his parents if he could change his name to Mackie. (For the record, Mackie was his father's name as well.) So, his parents allowed him to change his name as a birthday gift and we all spent the next six months trying to remember to call him by his new name.

Today, my former classmate is a leader in sales at his company, but I now wonder if that is what he would be if he had remained a Benjamin James.

You see, psychologists from the State University of New York at Buffalo studied the phenomenon of implicit egotism. This is the idea that we unconsciously prefer things that we associate with ourselves, including the letters of our own names. The study found that people with the first name like Lauren or Lawrence were more likely to be lawyers, and that individuals with the name of Dennis or Denise were more likely to be dentists.

Really. I am not making this up. It's in the study. (And it is weird!)

Also interesting to note is that the effect is stronger for the first names of women and the last names of men (so maybe it didn't make any difference if my friend changed his first name after all.)

So, why am I sharing this? I think a lot of parents feel pressure to choose the "right" name for their child. They look at family names, throw out the names of past girlfriends and boyfriends, consider highly unique names and then figure out every possible iteration to make sure no horrible nicknames can be formed. 

Throw in the idea that the name you choose could determine your child's career, and maybe it'll make you laugh a bit. You need the break.

What do you wish your parents had named you when you were growing up?


  1. Hmmm, Nancie.... Nerd

    Yeah, that IS weird. :D

  2. Haha! I would like to point out that despite my first name being Lauren, I am not a lawyer. I do work in marketing though and my last name is that is a little odd.