Could Your Baby's Name Predict Future Behavior?

Rachel Bertsche
·Writer
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Photo by Thinkstock

Choosing a name is one of the first — and sometimes trickiest — decisions parents make for their baby. There’s a lot to consider: possible nicknames, ease of spelling, what the kids on the playground will say, and outside associations (a little boy named Kermit will, for better or worse, always be lumped with the frog).

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New research from School Stickers, a UK company that supplies schools with stickers, postcards and certificates to reward good behavior, offers one more factor to consider: future behavior. Their annual “Naughty or Nice Names List” reveals the names of the UK’s most well-behaved kids of 2014—and the most mischievous. Good news if you’ve got a little Amy or Jacob at home!

According to the study, which analyzed who got the most reward stickers among more than 58,000 students, girls named Amy, Georgia and Emma are the most likely to be the best behaved. On the boys side, Jacob, Daniel and Thomas topped the “nice” list.

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On the flip side, girls named Ella, Bethany and Eleanor received the fewest accolades at school, as did the Josephs, Camerons, and Williams.

Here’s the full list:

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But before you rule out Olivia or Holly for your little girl, keep in mind that British naming trends are different than those in the U.S., says Laura Wattenberg, the baby name expert behind Baby Name Wizard. “An American parent should know that these names carry different social characterizations in the U.S,” she tells Yahoo Parenting. Amy, for example, isn’t commonly used in the United States anymore, she says.

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But there’s a greater lesson to be learned here, Wattenberg says. In Britain, names like Emma, Charlotte and Grace are extremely traditional, while names like Courtney, Amber and Jade are untraditional, and more American-sounding. The idea that kids with untraditional names might get fewer accolades is consistent with trends stateside. “American parents are pushing every year to make names more and more creative so that they stand out,” she says. “But standing out isn’t always a positive thing. The stronger a statement, the greater the chance a person will dislike it. With a traditional name, you won’t stand out, but you’re not going to rub someone the wrong way, either.” And whether these kids got the fewest stickers because they were actually poorly behaved, or because teachers had a preconceived notion based on their name, is unclear from the study.

No matter where you live, parents should take the “naughty or nice list” with a grain of salt, says Pamela Redmond Satran, the author of The Baby Name Bible and creator of the Baby Name site Nameberry. “There’s nothing intrinsically naughty about William or Eleanor, which sound like straight-laced and upstanding classic names to me. In the U.S., Eleanor is proper, smart. She’s the girl that will go to Harvard and always write thank you notes,” Redmond Satran tells Yahoo Parenting. “And there’s nothing specifically nice about Amy. You can read a study like this and smile — it’s definitely a cute idea — but if you’re choosing a name for your baby, I wouldn’t take this to heart for any predictive value.”