What’s in a name? (Photo: Yahoo Health/Getty Images)
Does your name scream sex god/goddess … or have more of a modest vibe? According to a new study, certain monikers have an inherently higher hotness quotient than others.
The Grade, a dating app that looks similar to Tinder, sought to find the most “attractive” names for men and women by tallying up the percentage of “yes” and “no” swipes certain names received, drawn from its database of over 100,000 users.
Now, you might be wondering how much influence your name really has on how you’re portrayed, whether it’s in the context of romance or something else. Quite a lot, it turns out. “We all react to names, whether we realize it or not, and it’s something we can’t turn off,” says Laura Wattenberg, founder of BabyNameWizard.com and author of The Baby Name Wizard. “Names are very rich signals, carrying information about someone’s age, race, even where they come from, and we process that intel unconsciously.” She tosses out the example of two hypothetical couples: Ryan and Ashley, and Mildred and Herman. Based on their names alone, you would instantly form very different impressions of the twosomes.
So it follows that names play a significant role in dateability. “In a survey we did, 68 percent of people said that a name would affect whether or not they would date someone,” says Jennifer Moss, founder of babynames.com and author of The One in a Million Baby Name Book.
She explains that our reaction to a name comes from two sources: personal perception (associations you have with a name based on your own experiences — so, if the school bully was named Donald, you’re likely to have a thing against that name) and mass perception — opinions drawn from societal factors like overall name popularity and celebrities.
Check out The Grade’s list of the top 15 list names for women and men:
What makes a name ‘hot’? First off, there are a few no-brainer examples on this list — Jenna (as in Jameson), and Lexi, which rhymes with sexy. “Sexy names generally tend to be longer and lacier, and you see a few traditional sexy-style ones here, like Brianna and Vanessa,” Wattenberg says.
“We have a list on our site of ‘pretty girl names,’ that conform with fairly conventional ideas of femininity and beauty,” says Pamela Satran, cofounder of Nameberry.com. “They often have vowel endings and several syllables, which give them an exotically attractive air.”
Speaking of phonetics, “Names that end in the ‘eee’ sound—as in ie or y—are diminutive, and are associated with nicknames or child-like names,” Moss says. “Men might conceive women with these names to be petite, which makes them feel more macho.”
And let’s not forget the power of youth. “Although there are some timeless names like Rebecca and Laura, many of the names on the list are identified with younger people,” Moss says. “You don’t see any Agneses or Nancys, which are associated with an older generation.”
But Wattenberg also points to a more surprising element: “These are friendly names,” she says. “Molly, Katie, and Laura are rated high for niceness and approachability.”
Along the same lines of approachability, names with a “good guy” vibe dominate the male list. “Andy, Jeff, and Noah have a high likeability quotient,” Wattenberg says. “We often tend to undervalue the role that niceness plays in attraction, but there is a warmth to those names that draws people to them.” Nicknames — such as Andy, Rob, Jeff, Zack, and Greg — also make someone seem more easygoing and less threatening, which could particularly be a turn-on for women.
Although dating apps have a reputation for being random hookup breeding grounds, this study actually suggests otherwise. “People seem to be assessing these names in terms of who they’d like to have a conversation with and potentially achieve a personal relationship with, which is encouraging,” Wattenberg says.
Whether or not you turn heads could indeed be somewhat determined by your name. “A study found that in a beauty contest, people rated women with more attractive names higher than those with unattractive names,” Satran says. “And social scientists refer to the ‘Pygmalion effect,’ where an attractive name leads you to expect someone to be good-looking, and so you actually see the person as being more attractive than they objectively are.” (The reverse is also true.)
“It may also be the case that good-looking parents tend to value beauty higher than other qualities, and so seek out names that have a beautiful sound and image, while also having better-looking children,” Satran adds. “Still, I definitely wouldn’t advise anyone to name their baby Brianna or Brett on the theory they’d grow up hotter!”
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