Unfortunate first names: Effects of name-based relational devaluation and interpersonal neglect
It may appear hard to believe that something as mundane as a negative first name can evoke neglect, discrimination, prejudice, or even ostracism. This paper considers the findings of three studies that examined the impact of people’s first names on the degree to which other members of an online-dating site sought information about them. Furthermore, it traced possible downstream effects of this attention versus neglect on self-esteem, smoking, and education. Individuals with extremely negative names, moderately unattractive names, and currently unpopular names were neglected by potential partners more than those with more positive, attractive, and popular names. In essence, some participants were neglected and discriminated against on the basis of their first names.
Overall, the results provide the firmest conclusions to date for the name-based interpersonal neglect hypothesis: negative names evoke negative interpersonal reactions, which in turn influence life outcomes for the worse.