Do Names Affect Perceptions of Attractiveness?

The Discover Magazine blog DiscoBlog uncovered this one — a 1993 study entitled “First names and perceptions of physical attractiveness.” From the abstract:

I examined the impact of first names on ratings of physical attractiveness as judged by British undergraduate subjects. […] Names accounted for approximately 6% of the variance in subjects’ ratings of physical attractiveness. This effect was highly significant for pictures of women (p < .001), but nonsignificant for pictures of men (p > .05).

The researchers used Danielle and Alexander as the “attractive” names and Tracey and Kenneth as the “unattractive” names.

The study also looked at the characteristics associated with certain types of first names:

  • “Men’s names connoted more masculine characteristics, less ethical caring, and more successful characteristics than did women’s names.”
  • “Nicknames connoted less successful characteristics, more popular fun, and less ethical caring characteristics than did given names.”
  • “Androgynous names connoted more popular fun and less masculine characteristics for men and more popular fun, less ethical caring, and more masculine characteristics for women than did gender-specific names.”
  • “Less conventionally spelled names connoted uniformly less attractive characteristics.”
  • “For men only, longer names connoted more ethical caring, less popular fun, more successful, and less masculine characteristics.”
  • “More anxiety and neuroticism were attributed to those with less common names and more exuberance was attributed to those with more attractive names.”

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