What's in a Name?: The Effect of Generation-Specific First Names on Attractiveness and Intelligence Ratings

Publication Year



Stereotype, first name, first-generation, intelligence, attractivness


Family, Life Course, and Society | Linguistics | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Statistics


This study was designed to investigate the relationship between first-names and stereotypes of attractiveness and intelligence when age associated with a name is varied. Further, if names do carry certain stereotypes, are these stereotypes based solely on the age associated with the name, or are they based on whether or not the name is typical for a person in a certain age group? One hundred and sixty-seven subjects rated the same 12 names on intelligence and attractiveness, using a five point Likert scale. Half of the subjects were told that all of the names belonged to people in their twenties, while the other half of the subjects were told that the same names belonged to people in their fifties. The results indicated that neither attractiveness ratings nor intelligence ratings were affected by the assigned age (twenties or fifties). However, younger names were rated significantly more attractive, yet less intelligent than names associated with older adults. Of the four possible age/gender combinations, old female names were rated the most intelligent, while young female names were rated the least intelligent. These results suggest that there are stereotypes associated with first names. Further, since names used in this study were the most common for their respective age group, differences in attractiveness and intelligence ratings cannot be attributed to familiarity of the name.

Department 1 Awarding Honors Status

Sociology and Anthropology

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