From climate change to evolution, science has had one heck of a time persuading more than a few naysayers to consider the results of that relevant research. Now add one more relatively more dubious hypothesis to the list.
This time, a study conducted in France has determined that whatever parents name their babies will have an effect on how others physically perceive them when they reach adulthood.
In the study, "We Look Like Our Names: The Manifestation of Name Stereotypes in Facial Appearance," published February in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, conclusion was reached when scientists asked a test group to examine photos of people they didn't know and try to figure out their names.
The result was that the group had a 40 percent accuracy record in identifying names to face. Mind you, 40 percent isn't exactly a passing mark, but when it comes to selecting from a nearly-infinite array of names out there and matching them with images of total strangers, scientists determined that the results were hardly an exercise of chance.
The experiment's results prompted the team to arrive at a theory: that baby name selection also comes with its own set of baggage bundled up with a slew of societal expectations. They assumed that kids take in a myriad of unspoken social codes and adjust by altering their appearances, behaviors and even their personality. One clue to this theory was that the test group used hairstyles as part of their criteria in the name-and-face-matching exercise.
So researchers went a step further to prove that theory by asking participants to use images and names of Israeli citizens. When the results were much lower than the 40-percent performance level of the previous experiment, scientists concluded that they simply operated on chance, taking societal norms out of the equation.
The French endeavor was not the first time such an experiment has taken place. Previous studies have covered similar ground, particularly research investigating what is now known as the Dorian Gray effect - a term given to the charismatic character in Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Grey. In one previous study, researchers cited examples such as those named Bob would have a more amiable appearance that someone named Tim. Additionally, they concluded fellows dubbed Winston would come across as downers and women named Mary would be perceived as highly moralistic.
Source: Times of Israel