Studies have found that baby names that are considered too different may have a detrimental effect on children later in life.
Unusual baby names are more fashionable than ever. I’m looking at you Robert Downey Jr. Avri is a beautiful baby name, but certainly different. And you Alyssa Milano. elisabella is very cute, but not too common.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with the only name. After all, I know enough about Emmas and Aidans to fill a hospital nursery. But you might want to think twice before choosing a hard-to-pronounce or “kinda like” nickname for your child. That’s because a name that’s considered too different could actually have a negative impact on your child’s life later in life.
A 2012 study looked at how a person’s name affects the way he or she is perceived. Researchers studied names from different parts of the world, and the researchers found that the more unusual the name, the more likely the person was to be perceived as risky or dangerous.
The researchers also found that simple statements were more believable if they were made by a person with a simple name, rather than a person with an unusual name.
As crazy as these findings may sound, lead researcher Eryn Newman of Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand explains why these different-sounding name biases exist.
“We know from other studies that people think that food additives with simple names are safer than food additives with difficult names. So we don’t think it’s a stereotype of foreign names. Instead, we think simple names feel more familiar or easier to handle than difficult names. For the Fred Flintstone part of our brain, that ease or familiarity suggests that we can trust something, but hard-to-process information suggests that there are dangers,” she says.
Of course, how your child is perceived is just one of the factors to consider when choosing the perfect baby name. If you really like a particular nickname, who cares what the study has to say about it?
But consider that this finding supports multiple other studies that show names affect how people perform in their careers. For example, Johns may be more likely to succeed than Raines (ahem, Kourtney Kardashian). And over the course of a lifetime, someone with a name that is difficult to pronounce may not be as credible; for example, in court, or in the face of law enforcement.
So you may want to think carefully about the unusual baby names on your list. Or don’t, just hope your baby becomes a friend and ends up working for someone else with an unusual nickname.