Plenty of psychological studies show that people are treated differently because of their names. Teachers grade the same work differently when it's attached to different names. Hiring managers look at the exact same resume differently based on names it's attached to. I know there are studies out there that show this stuff. But I'm too lazy to look right now, so I'll leave that up to you to Google for your homework assignment. :)
Names affect how other people treat you. Your hireability. Your marriage potential. Your earning potential. (I have sworn from day one that Newt Gingrich will not be the GOP nominee solely because his name is "Newt." True story.)
I have named one human being and I think I did a pretty good job, if I do say so myself.
Now I am tasked with naming another one. It's a big deal, but it's a fun thing too. Justin and I have been mulling over names for the past month. A few have stuck out. I read an article once about naming consultants--people who professionally advise you on what impact a name will have on your child. Because people will treat your child according to their perceptions of their name, and your child will respond and develop among that treatment, a name can truly shape the personalities and behaviors of your kid.
So yeah, naming a person is a big deal. It can truly, honestly affect the trajectory of their lives. There was always that weird kid in school that had a weird name. Jocks tend to have predictable names. Same with the popular girls. The artsy kids.
Now, I would never hire a name consultant. But I did play around on a website of one, just to see some of the limited information they have out there. When you hire for a consultation, you get hours of their time and insight. And of course they consider first, middle, and last names independently, combined, etc.
This website I went to had a "Free Report Card" where you enter in a name and it grades the name on certain factors.*
I told myself I shouldn't do it. What if the name I loved came back as a stinker? It would probably affect my decision, no matter what. I couldn't resist. I typed in the name and got the report. Let's just say that if my kid has a report card with that many D's and C's, they'd be going to summer school and grounded for life.
I was bummed. This stupid website had affected my decision. Time to throw out my favorite name and find something new.
I tinkered around with the website more. I entered my name. It was a stinker, too. I entered in the names of friends, coworkers, and TV characters. I started to notice something after awhile. This website wasn't very smart. Now, I am not an expert name consultant, so who am I to judge? But something fishy was going on. I tested out other names. I tested out words.
And then I realized that this website is dumb and my favorite name is back in the running.
The name Poop scored higher than the name I am considering for my daughter. Poop scored higher than my name. And that is just ridiculous. First, because Lara is the most awesomest name ever. Second...seriously. Poop. If Poop were listed as a name on a resume, the resume would get trashed. Poop would never get hired. Poop would have a really tough time scoring a date. Poop would have a lot of social challenges in life based on his/her name alone.
Obviously names are important. That's why Poop is going to have such a rough go of it. Obviously, this website is stupid. Because it is telling me to name my child Poop.
On the flip side, the website scores the name Poo significantly lower than Poop. That last "p" must really be important in social perception. :)
*I am not knocking the professional consultant behind this website. This shows me that the human brain is essential to naming a child, not just a computer algorithm.