Saturday, November 18, 2006

I'm too sexy for my name

From The Atlantic:

What's in a Name?

If you feel that the opposite sex isn't giving you the attention you so richly deserve, maybe you should consider making a change—a name change, that is. According to a preliminary study by an MIT cognitive scientist, the vowel sounds in people's names may have an impact on how others judge their attractiveness. Specifically, when the men in the study were assigned names with a stressed front vowel (a vowel sound spoken at the front of the mouth), they were rated as more attractive than when they were assigned names with a stressed back vowel. (In other words, good news for Dave, Craig, Ben, Jake, Rick, Steve, Matt; bad news for Lou, Paul, Luke, Tom, Charles, George, John.) In women the effect was reversed, and a stressed back vowel (Laura, Julie, Robin, Susan, Holly) boosted sex appeal, whereas a stressed front vowel (Melanie, Jamie, Jill, Tracy, Ann, Liz, Amy) had the opposite effect—to the author's disappointment, no doubt.

—"What's in a Name? The Effect of Sound Symbolism on Perception of Facial Attractiveness," Amy Perfors, MIT

This study has been written about in a few different places, including New Scientist, on Netscape News, and MSNBC. While the spin may be slightly different for each article, they all agree on one thing: Amy is a pretty un-sexy name. No wonder I changed mine!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Alas, another un-sexy Amy here. Nevertheless, I must thank you for your posting. Learning about the field of Onomastology is delightful! I thought I was really odd for thinking about names all the time. Now I know how to better educate myself. Can't wait to read more studies!