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Name stereotypes: What a name means in the real world

By Edited May 25, 2016 0 0

Picture a person by the name Brittany.  A picture should flash into your mind based on other Brittany's you have known.  Certain aspects of who "Brittany" is are already presupposed by yourself, and you could even hazard a few guesses about "Brittany".  A persons name is their identity, but most of our identities already have stereotypes associated with them. 

There are "Brittany's" however who will not be like the Brittany in your mind.  While the mistake will be rectified with getting to know a person, for those few seconds, minutes or hours of knowing this new person, you were assuming things about them that will change the way you act towards them.  Names are chosen for children for any number of reasons; however, as a culture there are stereotypes towards different names.  Some names we associate with certain ethnic groups, others we associate with wealth or poverty, and some we simply associate as being a specific type of person.

People even do this about themselves.  A person whose name is Theodore vs. Teddy vs. Ted, has themselves made a choice, or had the choice made for them to go by a certain name.  There are people who go by their last or middle names in an attempt to get away from their first name, but each of those different names would likely have you think differently of them.  Science tells us that this is at least in part true.  Changing the names on the same picture cards of people changed the assumptions the studies participants were making about them.  A similar study proved that a rose by another name does not smell as sweet, showing that people will associate a better smell as the one labeled rose, and a rose misnamed. 

The stereotypes can go in both ways, depending on what is wanted.  A persons name might stereotype them as being a good listener, or as the person who brings the party, but one thing is for sure, a name is more than a name.

 

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