A rebroadcast of “How Much Does Your Name Matter?” from Freakonomics Radio looked at the impact of a name on society, perception, prejudice, and ability to succeed.
Indeed, there is some evidence that a name can influence how a child performs in school and even her career opportunities. There’s also the fact that different groups of parents — blacks and whites, for instance — have different naming preferences. Stephen Dubner talks to Harvard professor Latanya Sweeney about a mysterious discrepancy in Google ads for Instant Checkmate, a company that sells public records. Sweeney found that searching for people with distinctively black names was 25% more likely to produce an ad suggesting the person had an arrest record – regardless of whether that person had ever been arrested.
…So you might think that names make a big difference. But Steve Levitt insists otherwise. In a paper called “The Causes and Consequences of Distinctively Black Names,” Levitt and Roland Fryer argue that a first name doesn’t seem to affect a person’s economic life at all.
Names do, however, reveal a lot about the people doing the naming. Eric Oliver, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, talks about his new research (with co-authors Thomas Wood and Alexandra Bass) that looks at how children’s names are influenced by their parents’ political ideology:
Whether you choose to change your name or not as a blogger, this is a fascinating episode, worth the listen.
As a blogger, though, you have the right to be whomever you wish. It works best if you make that choice before you start blogging.
Names are funny things. Like the Freakonmics episode, there is research to indicate that whether we like it or not, decisions are made based upon our names, sometimes by ourselves not just others.
I honestly believe that my name cultivated my personality. I didn’t really know my real name until I was older, being yelled by a nickname across the fields by my family. It wasn’t until we moved to a new school district when I was 13 years old that I put on the “Lorelle” name for a try. A few years later in high school, a new nickname was put on my name tag and Lorelle took a backseat. After college, I decided to become this “Lorelle” moniker that I’d dragged around with me, turning it into a persona like “Madonna” and “Cher.” The one name wonder. I loved it when mail arrived addressed to Mr. Lorelle Lorelle. Computers, fairly new back then, couldn’t handle someone without a last name.