College Students' Given Names: A Test of the Preference-Feedback Hypothesis1


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Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Jane Ellington, Austin College, 900 North Grand Avenue, Suite 61575, Sherman, TX 75090-4440. e-mail:


According to the preference-feedback hypothesis, liking generally increases with familiarity up to a point and then declines. However, for stimuli such as given names, liking increases monotonically with familiarity, because given names that become too familiar tend to be chosen less frequently by parents, thus becoming less familiar once again. A college sample of 160 men and 211 women provided potential names for first son and first daughter, as well as reasons for their selections. Comparing given names of the research participants with names that they chose for sons and daughters, high-frequency participants' names occurred less frequently as choices for sons and daughters' names, although this effect was significant for women's names only. Frequency was mentioned as a reason for choices by 10% to 20% of the sample, and significantly more often for daughters' names than for sons' names.