The Art of the Name

Aarushi Sharma

April 22, 2022

Globally, there are about 4.5 births each second. 140 million new humans on Earth, each with an average of 73 years to live. With the millions of new lives coming into the world, each individual requires a source of identification. An arrangement of letters, lovingly sewn together, is selected and gifted to the child. They are offered a word they will hear every single day for the rest of their lives; their name. 

Names are an integral part of a person's identity. They tell a story, no matter how big or small. At times, names are given in the hopes of sustaining a story from the past, giving homage to family or religious members. One may look at these names as tributes, conveying legacies, but most people turn a blind eye to the fact that these names write a story of the future and present.

People are considered to be the embodiment of their name, resulting in stereotyping certain looks and personalities to be associated with specific names. Chads are labeled as douchebags, Karens are known to have an excruciating personality, and Emilys are considered to be annoying teenage girls. The association of names to personalities is not coincidental. Studies conducted by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem determined that names fit their owners inside and out. In the study, participants were given four options of names to assign to the presented face. As opposed to the projected results indicating that the percentage of guesses of each name would be 25% each, they were skewed toward the correct option. Certain names were guessed correctly 52% of the time, while others were closer to the initial 25%. Regardless, the guesses were correct 30% of the time, meaning the 5% higher rate of correct guesses was not pure chance.

Names are given at birth, before determining the characteristics of the individual, so they are considered to be “self-fulfilling prophecies”. The names people are given manifest the characteristics they acquire throughout their life. A great example of this is the ‘Petter Problem,’ a shocking statistic displayed through a study that proves there are more CEOs with the name of Peter than women CEOs in the United Kingdom. America, equipped with a similar problem, suffers from more CEOs named John than female CEOs in fortune 500 companies.

A significant name bias in the workplace is also present, as, in nations such as the US, UK, and Canada, it is statistically more likely to be hired with a more anglicized name. This bias is simply the result of a deeper-rooted problem of gender, racial, and age bias when hiring. A name is yet another way people judge others before even grasping a sense of their character. Although a name is the tip of the iceberg for this mammoth issue, it is also the unofficial identification card everyone carries throughout the world.