Does your name choose your path in life?

We’ve all seen the clip of the snobbish Katie Hopkins getting on her high horse on ITV, proclaiming to the world that she would never allow her offspring to play with children named “Tyler”, “Chantal” and a whole host of other perfectly innocent names.

I, like many others, immediately disregarded this as yet another act of Hopkins’ outrageous, controversial condescension. But then it got me thinking, in this stereotypical world where judging a book by its cover is unfortunately the norm, do our names really have the power to impact our future?

You might be surprised to find that many studies have been conducted to investigate exactly how our names can affect our lives. From researching patterns in childhood behaviour and employability, to successes in life and love – these explorations have succeeded in showing that in some respects, our name can certainly influence the things we experience in our lives. But it’s not always for the better…

Several studies, including those conducted by academics at the lives of Harvard University, have shown that our names have a bearing on our academic and professional performance. Holders of more unusual names are more likely to drop out of studies, while owners of more common names were more likely to be hired by employers. This all gets far more interesting (and frankly, less discriminatory) when it is put into more academic terms, an example of which is a theory known as “Nominative Determinism”.

This concept states that people tend to gravitate towards areas of work that suit their name. An article exploring this in New Scientist applied the theory to studies performed on particular topics by aptly named people. Including a study on polar explorations by a Daniel Snowman and articles on urology (pee!) by Splatt and Weedon (hilarious, right?). As light-hearted and trivial as this may seem, the truth of the matter is somewhat surprising.

“Are all Kaydens just a stone’s throw away from becoming juvenile delinquents”

Other studies have investigated the effect of names on other matters such as where we live, who we marry, and even our likelihood to give to charity. While the findings of these studies are hugely interesting to read, I cannot help but wonder whether, in conforming to these name-based stereotypes, are we not guilty of tarring everyone with the same metaphorical brush? Are all Daves destined to become builders? Are all Kaydens just a stone’s throw away from becoming juvenile delinquents, as Hopkins would have us believe? And what about Angelina, it seems unfair to assume that any Angelinas who do not take to the stage as professional ballerinas have simply not achieved their purpose in life.

So, where am I going with this? As a holder of a fairly rare name myself, I suppose what I am trying to say is, despite what the studies claim, we should all try a little harder to look past our preconceptions of others and get to know what’s behind their name before making a snap judgement. Wouldn’t you agree?

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