A week after we found out I was pregnant, my husband and I chose our son’s name while driving in a snowstorm. Faced with treacherous road conditions and traffic delays, we distracted ourselves for hours talking about initials, nicknames, and, of course, crossing out some choices based on old high-school friends and flings. None of the options from my Favorite-Names-for-Future-Children list made the first cut, but after scrolling through one of those long internet lists my eyes landed on a name that would work perfectly with our last name.
Now, 40-weeks-pregnant me has to confess that I’ve recently thought of other names I might like more. Maybe. Dang it.
Chalk that up to tossing and turning in the sea of pillows that has now become my bed. With too much time to lie awake and think, this millennial takes solace in long information-gathering sessions with Mr. iPhone. Here’s what I’ve found to be intriguing so far in terms of peer-reviewed research:
Front of the Line
In my college psychology course (taken Way Back in the Day), I learned that people with A- and B-names tend to perform better academically, whereas students bearing names that begin with D and F tend to score lower in academic performance situations. (Apparently, the rest of us are a crap-shoot.) This research was replicated and reconfirmed in 2010.
Of course, good ol’ correlation doesn’t equal causation. I can think of several smarties with D- and F-names, can’t you?
Some people hardly use their middle names or initials, but it can make all the difference for others. In terms of perceived competence, researchers at the University of Southampton teamed up with psychologists at the University of Limerick to test whether or not the presence of a middle initial made any difference. As it turns out, the presence of a middle initial “increases the positive evaluations of people’s intellectual capacities.” That’s reason enough for me to choose a middle name-initial combo with a ring to it.
Short with Boys, Long with Girls
When my husband said he wanted a strong, one-syllable male name for our son, I thought him a little odd. Turns out, he’s not alone in this opinion.
LinkedIn isn’t my first choice for research, but the company’s analysis of 100 million user profiles turned up some interesting results. Male CEOs tended to have more four-letter names. Female CEOs, on the other hand, tended to have longer names. What a fascinating difference in gender expectations.
Two potential names my husband brought to the table were Dallas and Austin, both of which hit a little too close to home for me, literally. What if our child wanted to live in one of those places one day?
I’d heard that more Virginias live in Virginia and more people named Louis live in St. Louis (my hometown), but I never knew that to be true until I read this 2002 study on the egoism that accompanies our names. It’s true, and it’s called the Implicit-Egotism Effect. People gravitate toward places that bear a resemblance to their names, not to mention other people, businesses, and objects that begin with the first letter of our first or last names.
Tanglewood Moms Research
I could go on, but instead I thought I’d share what I found most interesting from a March 3rd post made in the Tanglewood Moms Facebook Group.
One member said she was waiting to find out the gender of her unborn child, but she was having a hard time picking boy names. Our community chimed in with enough ideas to fill a small ark. Here are a few boy names that may be trending in our area soon: Lucas/ Luke, Carter, Matthew, Mateo, Rhett, Grey, Nolan or Nolen, Colin, and Eammon or Aemon.
As for my son’s name, I’m sticking with the gut instinct that felt so radically right on that snowy night. Pre-labor jitters won’t win. Not this time.
Jackie Hoermann-Elliott is the Assistant Director of TCU’s New Media Writing Studio, where she teaches digital composing to Horned Frogs needing to create videos, infographics, blogs, and much more. She wrote for newspapers and magazines around the Midwest before settling down in the Lone Star State. Since she moved here in 2013, she’s written for The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Indulge, K Magazine, The Dallas Morning News, and GuideLive. Currently, she writes for those fun guys running The Fort Worth Weekly and is a valuable member of the TanglewoodMoms.com team. When she’s not writing, she’s procrasti-cleaning to avoid her dissertation or reading up on new trends in health and psychology research. For fun, she cheers on her husband, Mansfield ISD football coach Buck Elliot, she teaches yoga at Yogali off E. Lancaster, or practices poses with her amazing bonus daughter, “E.”