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Thread: How does one's name influence personality ?

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    Post How does one's name influence personality ?



    I am glad to see that some British scientists have conducted a study (see BBC artticle) to evaluate the link between given names and personality or "fate".

    I have been thinking about this since I was a teenager. At the time, I was wondering about the scientific validity of name post cards or folders explaining the traits of character, luck, or success linked to each name. This looked like irrational astrology to me. However, it made me wonder : How could you feel the same way about who you are if you had a different given name ?

    I tried to imagine myself being called by a different name all my life since my early childhood. I tried to feel what difference it would make in the way I relate to others, or in the image I have of myself.

    Having a rare name or a very common one must be a very different experience to live. With a rarer name, one feels more unique. With a common name, one is likely to have friends (or foes) with the same name, which could only change our ego perception associated with our name.

    More importantly, living with a name that we like or one that we dislike does have serious consequences on self-confidence, happiness or the way we relate to others in society.

    How do parents choose baby names ?

    From a psychological point of view, I have observed that many parents name their babies after a person they particularly like. This can be a friend, another family member, themselves (although this has fallen out of fashion in most of Europe, as it is regarded as selfish and reminds of old-fashioned monarchist practices), but more and more often after a celebrity. In fact, calling one's child by the same name as the sovereign's child has been done for centuries - at least since the Middle Ages.

    Another popular trend, especially during the 19th and early 20th century, was to name children after Biblical characters (ever wondered why John and Mary have been the most common given name in Western Europe for at least 700 years ?). This is still extremely common in Muslim countries, where a disproportionatly high number of men are called Mohammed/Muhammad.

    Many East Asians choose baby names based on the signification of the (Chinese) characters, and on the luck associated with the number of strokes for all the characters. In Japan, where characters can be read in 2 or more different ways ("On" or "Kun" reading), it sometimes happen that some people (usually men) have a name that can be read in two completely different ways.

    Semantic names are also used in Western countries. Some girls are given flower names (e.g. Rose). Old Germanic and Greek names are typically compounded adjectives with positive atributes, just like Chinese characters.

    Another way of naming a child is just to select a name that sounds good to the hear, whatever its meaning or origin. This is increasingly common nowadays.

    How do first names influence our lives ?

    According to the BBC article in link above, some names happen to be more successful than others, some sound more attractive, and some confer more luck. This may just be a statistical observation. The true psychology behind names is far too personal to be generalised in this way.

    However, if one is called Jesus (probably a Latin American), Abraham (probably a North American), or Mohammed, chances are that they will feel closer to the religion associated to that name as if they had had a non-religious name. So some names do have a psychological impact that can be somewhat generalised, though individual mindset, culture and one's environment will influence this in various ways, sometimes giving it a completely different direction as could have been expected.

    The association of a famous person in history with one's name (especially if it is a not so common one) is bound to have a psychological effect on the person, even unconsciously. It can also have an effect on how other people see that person. Needless to say that a boy called Siegfried will evoke in other people the legendary dragon slayer. This is because it is a very rare name nowadays, and that's the only association most people will have with that name. On the other hand, Biblical names are so common that a person called David has little chance of reminding first of King David, as opposed to say David Beckham, David Bowie, or other modern celebrities.

    Our image of the attractiveness or success linked to a name is highly influenced by family and acquaintances and celebrities. Celebrities also includes historical ones. It is hard to be called Louis/Lewis without ever thinking about the kings of France.

    The psychology of names is a complex matter, that could be studied in one's whole lifetime. Ultimately, the important thing is for each of us to understand what our name means to ourselves and people we meet in the culture and society in which we live, and how the image reflected by others influences our own image of ourselves.

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    Here's an interesting article on the same subject:

    http://www.behindthename.com/articles/2.php

    I've often wondered why parents give their children bizarre names. The article suggests that it may be intentional:

    It may well be that peculiar names, which are likely to cause other children to poke fun, are actually unconscious messages from the parents that the children are peculiar and deserving of ridicule.

    I do think that culture makes a big difference. Note that the names mentioned in the BBC article differ from the American article. Jeff and Linda might be desirable and positive in the US, but they are old-fashioned here in the UK.

    Unless you have a really bizarre name, I think the effect of your name is probably slight. For example, my name was unique in my school, and at the time I hated it because it was one more way that I stood out. Now that I've come to terms with standing out, I've learned to like my name. It's hard to guess if things would have been different if my name was something more mainstream, but I doubt it would have made a big difference. Just thinking of the vastly different people I know who share the same name convinces me of that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsuyoiko View Post
    I do think that culture makes a big difference. Note that the names mentioned in the BBC article differ from the American article. Jeff and Linda might be desirable and positive in the US, but they are old-fashioned here in the UK.
    Indeed there are major cultural differences in the popularity and connotation (e.g. old-fashioned vs young, upper-class vs lower-class) from one country to another, even in the same language group. I have compared popular names in the US, UK, Belgium, Germany, France and Italy, and it is really hard to find an international name that sounds good everywhere.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    I am glad to see that some British scientists have conducted a study (see BBC artticle) to evaluate the link between given names and personality or "fate".

    How do parents choose baby names ?

    From a psychological point of view, I have observed that many parents name their babies after a person they particularly like. This can be a friend, another family member, themselves (although this has fallen out of fashion in most of Europe, as it is regarded as selfish and reminds of old-fashioned monarchist practices), but more and more often after a celebrity. In fact, calling one's child by the same name as the sovereign's child has been done for centuries - at least since the Middle Ages.
    Yes I have heard of people naming their child after their best friends.

    Another popular trend, especially during the 19th and early 20th century, was to name children after Biblical characters (ever wondered why John and Mary have been the most common given name in Western Europe for at least 700 years ?). This is still extremely common in Muslim countries, where a disproportionatly high number of men are called Mohammed/Muhammad.
    Yes for people who are very religious.

    Many East Asians choose baby names based on the signification of the (Chinese) characters, and on the luck associated with the number of strokes for all the characters. In Japan, where characters can be read in 2 or more different ways ("On" or "Kun" reading), it sometimes happen that some people (usually men) have a name that can be read in two completely different ways.
    This is true, my Chinese name is chosen based on the strokes matching to the strokes of my surname in traditional font. It also needs to match with my birthday, and the exact time I was born.

    Semantic names are also used in Western countries. Some girls are given flower names (e.g. Rose). Old Germanic and Greek names are typically compounded adjectives with positive atributes, just like Chinese characters.
    Flower names are also fairly popular in Chinese names for girls. However I know a lot of Sarahs but they are not Jewish at all!

    Another way of naming a child is just to select a name that sounds good to the hear, whatever its meaning or origin. This is increasingly common nowadays.
    Yes, logically speaking.



    How do first names influence our lives ?

    According to the BBC article in link above, some names happen to be more successful than others, some sound more attractive, and some confer more luck. This may just be a statistical observation. The true psychology behind names is far too personal to be generalised in this way.

    However, if one is called Jesus (probably a Latin American), Abraham (probably a North American), or Mohammed, chances are that they will feel closer to the religion associated to that name as if they had had a non-religious name. So some names do have a psychological impact that can be somewhat generalised, though individual mindset, culture and one's environment will influence this in various ways, sometimes giving it a completely different direction as could have been expected.

    The association of a famous person in history with one's name (especially if it is a not so common one) is bound to have a psychological effect on the person, even unconsciously. It can also have an effect on how other people see that person. Needless to say that a boy called Siegfried will evoke in other people the legendary dragon slayer. This is because it is a very rare name nowadays, and that's the only association most people will have with that name. On the other hand, Biblical names are so common that a person called David has little chance of reminding first of King David, as opposed to say David Beckham, David Bowie, or other modern celebrities.

    Our image of the attractiveness or success linked to a name is highly influenced by family and acquaintances and celebrities. Celebrities also includes historical ones. It is hard to be called Louis/Lewis without ever thinking about the kings of France.

    The psychology of names is a complex matter, that could be studied in one's whole lifetime. Ultimately, the important thing is for each of us to understand what our name means to ourselves and people we meet in the culture and society in which we live, and how the image reflected by others influences our own image of ourselves.
    Well kids can be mean sometimes, so yes parents should be careful not to choose a name people can make fun of.

    Yes, the name does give an impression about a person.

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    I've been thinking about this co-influence between name and personality for a while. It is interesting. Maybe sometimes parents willingly or unwillingly want their children to be as their given names, by meaning of the name or the caracter that had it.
    Also I find very interesting the same name in different languages, for example:
    John - English
    Jean - French
    Juan - Spanish
    Johann - German
    Yahya - Arabic, present in all muslim peoples
    Jovan - Serbian
    Ivan - Russian, Croat etc.
    Ian - Scandinavian
    Because of the first text I find the words of Muhammad, pbuh: "Give your children beautiful names, because you will be called by yout names and names of your fathers on the day of judgement." much more important.

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    Quote Originally Posted by euromuslim View Post
    Also I find very interesting the same name in different languages, for example:
    John - English
    Jean - French
    Juan - Spanish
    Johann - German
    Yahya - Arabic, present in all muslim peoples
    Jovan - Serbian
    Ivan - Russian, Croat etc.
    Ian - Scandinavian
    I agree, that is interesting, and I wonder if it can tell us anything about the development of those languages. I suppose the name "John" started out in some particular form a couple of thousand years ago, which became altered as it passed into different languages. I wonder if there are any studies on how certain names became varied in such a way?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsuyoiko View Post
    I agree, that is interesting, and I wonder if it can tell us anything about the development of those languages. I suppose the name "John" started out in some particular form a couple of thousand years ago, which became altered as it passed into different languages. I wonder if there are any studies on how certain names became varied in such a way?
    The beginning of this name must be arameic, because that is where this name came from.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsuyoiko View Post
    I agree, that is interesting, and I wonder if it can tell us anything about the development of those languages. I suppose the name "John" started out in some particular form a couple of thousand years ago, which became altered as it passed into different languages. I wonder if there are any studies on how certain names became varied in such a way?
    The reason John has become such a widespread given name all over Europe is because John was the "main" apostle in Christianity. All Biblical names have translations in all European languages, as opposed to Pagan names (Celtic, Germanic, Slavic, Basque, etc.).

    Some Biblical names don't vary much due to their easy pronunciation (e.g. Luke, Luc, Luca). John has great regional variations. Just within Germany there is Jan (mostly in the north), Johan, Johann, Johannes and Hans. English has Ian, Iain, John, Jon, Joe... You can see a full list of alternate forms of John in different languages on Wiki.

    James is also quite versatile. Just in English it can take the form Jaime, Jamie, Jimmy, Jim, Jake, Jack, Jakob, etc.

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