You may have grown to love your first name, but new research suggests other people might not be quite so keen.
According to a new study Brits are quick to make judgements about an individual’s personality simply based on their first name – and they usually get it wrong.
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The study (commissioned by sticker company My Nametags) surveyed 2,000 adults and focused on six of the most common monikers in the UK, with the aim of revealing the stereotypes associated with each of the names.
The six names selected were:
David, James, Christopher, Sarah, Laura and Gemma.
The research revealed women with the name Sarah are generally considered in a good light, with individuals typically thought to be compassionate, sociable, kind conscientious and likeable.
The name James also fared well, with these individuals considered to be the most charismatic and confident.
Men named Christopher were regarded as the most intellectual of all, as well as quiet, high-achieving, reliable and organised.
But while those named Christopher were largely highly praised, they were also assumed to be unsociable and uninventive.
Bad news for Davids, Lauras and Gemmas
Findings also revealed those named David were similarly seen in an unfair light, with most Brits admitting to expecting people with this first name to be assertive, angry and closed-minded, even before meeting them.
Similarly those called Laura also don’t fare well.
Women with this name were generally thought of as unlikeable, uncharismatic and bad-team players, although what they lack in social skills, they apparently make up for in energy and creativity.
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Equally, women named Gemma were burdened with negative assumption, with people regarding them as bad tempered and unkind.
Why do the assumptions exist?
Stereotypes usually stem from public perception of well-known figures, according to chartered clinical psychologist and scientist, Linda Blair.
“One of the ways we deal with information overload – a real problem in today’s world – is to create mental ‘shortcuts’ and relying on name stereotypes is one of them,” said Blair.
“However, these stereotypes are usually based on only a few high profile individuals at a particular point in time and, even less realistically, often on fictional characters in books and films.
“As a result, they rarely hold up in everyday encounters.
“Add this to the fact that each of us displays different, often contradictory qualities, depending on the situation, and you’ll find those stereotypes bear little relation to the people you meet.”
Are name judgements accurate?
To test the accuracy of common stereotypes, My Nametags teamed up with Blair to conduct a series of psychological assessments devised to reveal an individual’s most dominant personality traits.
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The assessments were made on a group of people with these six popular names, to determine whether they actually did live up to the stereotypes.
The study assessed the ‘Big Five’ personality traits (openness, neuroticism, agreeableness, extroversion and conscientiousness), asking each of the subjects to describe themselves from their own point of view, as well as their friends, family and colleagues, to give a holistic perspective of their character.
Findings showed that in many instances, the stereotypes proved to be entirely inaccurate, with only around 30 per cent of those tested displaying the characteristics they were expected to have.
Just a third of people named Gemma and James would identify themselves as moody, while an equal amount of those named Laura and Christopher admitted to being grumpy people, results showed.
Commenting on the findings, Blair said, “The tests revealed that most people have a range of conflicting personality traits, offering a potential explanation as to why so few people lived up to their stereotypes.
“For instance, during interviews, one Sarah described herself as both organised and disorganised, depending on the situation – this makes it incredibly difficult to categorise individuals into a broad stereotype, especially based on their first name alone.
“These contrasting qualities are likely to present themselves to different people in different situations, so there is no single list of qualities that could be used to describe any one of these accurately.”