The Effects of Names on Perception of Intelligence, Popularity, and Competence


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Robert K. Young, Department of Psychology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78713.


Three experiments were conducted to explore the effects of first names on judgments of intelligence, popularity, and competence. In Experiment 1, first names that were used more often in the past than they are now (called Older Generation names) were rated by a sample of college-aged judges as less popular and less intelligent than were first names that are used more often now than in the past (called Younger Generation names). In addition, male first names tended to have higher ratings of these same qualities than did female first names. In Experiments 2 and 3, either resumes or personal ads were used to provide additional information to the raters. Results similar to those found in Experiment 1 were obtained. In general the present experiment used groups of names rather than individual names so as to control for possible irrelevant and idiosyncratic differences that might be found among individual names. Relevance to research in which men and women are compared was discussed.