What’s in a name? It is a question which has intrigued humankind since the time of William Shakespeare.
Now an analysis of people’s impressions of six of the most popular names in the UK have found that people called James - like 007 James Bond - are thought to be the most charismatic and confident, while those named Gemma are assumed to be bad tempered and unkind.
Women with the name Sarah are often considered in a good light, as the research revealed that Sarahs are usually believed to be compassionate, sociable, kind, conscientious and likable.
People were also quizzed on their impressions of Christophers, Davids and Lauras.
The report from name tag manufacturer mynametags.com revealed that men with the name Christopher are considered to be the most intellectual of all and are found to be quiet, high-achieving, reliable and organised. However, they are also assumed to be unsociable and uninventive.
Lauras also do not fare well, according to the stereotypes. The research revealed that women named Laura are thought to be unlikeable, uncharismatic and bad team-players. However, what they lack in social skills they make up for in energy and creativity, those surveyed claimed.
Chartered clinical psychologist and scientist, Linda Blair, said: “One of the ways we deal with information overload, a real problem in today’s world, is to create mental ‘shortcuts’ and relying on name stereotypes is one of them. However, these stereotypes are usually based on only a few high-profile individuals at a particular point in time and, even less realistically, often on fictional characters in books and films. As a result, they rarely hold up in everyday encounters.
“Add this to the fact that each of us displays different, often contradictory qualities, depending on the situation, and you’ll find those stereotypes bear little relation to the people you meet.”
The firm carried out a series of psychological assessments devised to reveal an individual’s most dominant personality traits, on a test group of people with these six common names, to determine whether they really did live up to the stereotypes.
The results showed that in many instances, the stereotypes proved to be entirely wrong, with only around 30 per cent of people tested displaying the characteristics that they were expected to have.
The survey suggested those with the names Gemma and James are considered to be the moodiest. However, the experiment found that just a third of people named Gemma and James would identify themselves as moody, with an equal amount of Lauras and Christophers admitting to being grumpy people.
Ms Blair added: “I would suggest that it isn’t possible for someone to ‘act like a James’ and we shouldn’t be tempted to make judgements about people based purely on their name because we will almost certainly be wrong.”
Lars B Andersen, managing director at My Nametags, said: “We know that a person’s name can really paint a picture of the type of person they are, which is why naming a child can be such a difficult task. It can be easy to be put off a name because we dislike some who shares it, or it has negative associations. But our research shows deep rooted stereotypes are almost completely unfounded.”