Narcissism and Unique Baby Names – Is There a Connection?

Psychologist Jean M. Twenge, co-author of The Narcissism Epidemic, believes there is a connection between unique baby names and narcissism. In a USA Today article published several months ago, she’s quoted as saying:

We know the desire for uniqueness [in baby names] is going up, and we know narcissism is going up. That doesn’t mean we can say it’s definitely a cause, but the two are clearly related.

I haven’t read Twenge’s book, so I’m curious to know how she and her co-author managed to quantify something like “narcissism.”

Regardless, I’m intrigued about the possible correlation between conceitedness and uncommon baby names. More than intrigued, actually — excited. Seems like a very logical relationship to me.


5 thoughts on “Narcissism and Unique Baby Names – Is There a Connection?

  1. I don’t know – it certainly has my attention. But it seems like a big leap. People are becoming more self-centered, so they’re giving their kids wacky names …

    There are dozens of explanations for why there’s more diversity in baby naming these days. A lot of it, IMHO, reflects the world changing for the better – when parents embrace their roots and call their kids Fernando or Maeve, for example, or reach far back on the family tree to discover something unusual. Or opt for names that reflect their values – Canyon for environmentalists, Trinity for the spiritual.

    I haven’t read the book, either – though I’m going to look for it at the library – but I tend to think that ANY sweeping generalization about naming trends is always flawed. There’s a tendency to believe that, up until the wacky 1960s, we were all called Bill and Mary and John and wouldn’t life be simpler if … It’s just not true.

  2. The author doesn’t explicitly state that the relationship is causal — only that there’s a correlation. So no sweeping generalizations have been made just yet. :)

  3. I think it’s more of a reaction to the over-used names of the previous generation… my generation is full of Jasons and Jennifers (and Jamie/Jaimes), and I certainly went for ‘unique’ names, looking into our Irish heritage and finding two that are actually quite common in the homeland, but seem to sound outlandish to most Americans. Cian and Declan won’t have to experience the confusion that comes with having 3 others with the same names in their first grade classes that led my teachers to tag my middle name to my first all through school.

  4. Just spotted another interview with Twenge — here’s a quote:

    Our theory, which we’ve tested, is that parents are much more concerned with their children standing out. In the previous era, they were more interested in their children fitting in.

    Comes from “Sea of unique in baby names” by Cheryl Wetzstein, published in The Washington Times.

  5. I think a lot of parents give “unique” names in order to impress the general public with their creativity. Yes, it’s narcissism. Your baby’s name is not about you. An actual person has to live with it.

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