Choosing a Child's Name? Their Future Happiness (and Exam Success) May Be at Stake; Welsh Research Discovers Link to Self-Esteem

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), June 26, 2008 | Go to article overview
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Choosing a Child's Name? Their Future Happiness (and Exam Success) May Be at Stake; Welsh Research Discovers Link to Self-Esteem


Byline: Robin Turner

WHAT'S in a name? Future happiness, self-esteem and peace of mind, according to research carried out in a Welsh university.

But Jochen Gebauer, lead author of a new psychological study, warns that people really have to like their own names before the peace of mind, happiness and selfesteem kick in.

He claims to have uncovered a clear link between name-liking and overall self-esteem.

"People who have high selfesteem tend to like their name more," said Mr Gebauer, a PhD student in the school of psychology at Cardiff University.

"The reason is known as the 'mere-ownership effect'which essentially means that if we like ourselves, we prefer things that are ours to other options.

"Another study established this effect years ago when people were given toasters and other household appliances to compare. No matter what they were given, they always preferred the item that was theirs.

"When you own a certain object, then you put the value you have for yourself into this object."

But he says the connection to name-liking provides a better way to assess self-esteem.

According to Mr Gebauer, selfesteem is one of the most heavily studied psychological concepts and "the Holy Grail of modern times".

He said, "If you have high self-esteem, everything is good. You have no social problems, you are less aggressive, you feel better about yourself, you have more friends and people like you more."

His paper on the link between name-liking and self-esteem will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

Mr Gebauer says popular culture has even tackled people's fraught relationships with their names, including an episode of Friends in which the character Chandler decides he hates his name and wants to change it.

And in his paper he points to an episode of the hit US comedy series Seinfeld, in which one of the characters, Cosmo Kramer goes to great lengths to conceal his first name.

Social networking website Facebook is home to a group called "I Love My Name" which boasts more than 2,200 members, most of them with distinctive names like Queen, Keiva, Passion, Mctony and TeQuilla.

More research into names at America's Yale University conducted by Joseph Simmons, assistant professor of marketing, indicates that people subconsciously make decisions based on their names.

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