A rose may indeed be a rose – unless it's called Kevin. If you're on the hunt for some online romance this year, here's a tip to improve your odds: Switch up to a classy name. New research suggests that hopeful Internet daters might blame the parents for the dearth of hits on their profiles – if they fall among the "unfortunately named," according to psychologists at Humboldt University in Berlin.
The researchers tested their theory by sending out 47,000 e-mails without photos to German dating-site members. Names such as Alexander and Charlotte received significantly more hits than Mandy, or even Justin (whether this was despite, or perhaps, because of the famous Bieber was unclear).
The study was published in the latest issue of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science and backs up other international research that has been done on the power of names. Previous U.S. research has found that female lawyers with masculine-sounding names were more likely to become judges. A 2011 study from the University of Toronto found that job seekers in Canada were consistently more likely to get callbacks if they had common anglophone names.
On the marriage front, scientists have suggested the unconscious influence of our own initials may explain why poor "Justin" might have better luck with a "Justina."
And Mandy and Kevin aren't only unlucky in love, at least in Germany. A 2009 study reported that students with those names were also more likely to be associated with bad behaviour and low academic performance by teachers. (American research has shown a similar perception of students with African-American names.)
The Berlin researchers grimly concluded that a cultural name-bias "arguably mirrors a name-based history of neglect." The tricky part for parents? Researchers controlled for how popular the names were at time of birth. So mom and dad may have done their best. But name-fads, like love, can be a fickle affair.
Does a person's name influence your opinion of them?