Unique Names Correlated to Criminal Behavior

Toronto Star columnist Vinay Menon begs: “Please don’t give your baby a weird name.”

In his most recent article, “My name is iPod, but call me Felon,” Menon reveals that he greatly disliked his first name as a teenager. (He wished he’d been a Steve.)

More importantly, though, he cites an intriguing recent study, “First Names and Crime: Does Unpopularity Spell Trouble?” (pdf):

Long story short: David E. Kalist and Daniel Y. Lee compiled a database of more than 15,000 males in an unnamed American state to see if uncommon names could be correlated with criminal behaviour.

Short story shorter: They could.

This means if you are sent to prison in the U.S., your cellmate is more likely to be a Nevada or Thurmond than an Andrew or Michael. Great. So now a peculiar name could turn your baby into a juvenile delinquent.

“Mr. Jones? This is the police. We’ve arrested your son for vandalism. He was caught spray-painting, `I don’t want to be a Gandalf!’ on windshields.”

Some food for thought, eh?

Other studies have correlated unique names with undesirable outcomes such as low test scores, low educational attainment and low income.

P.S. An article in The Globe and Mail summarizes the study pretty well (if you don’t want to open that pdf file).


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