Are You Wearing Your Name Or Is It The Other Way Around?

If your name was Amelia Earhart would you ever even consider a profession outside of aviation? The reason may actually not be because of that other famous pilot.

Once upon a time, we were a people with just one name. Between the 13 and 19 centuries last names took off with their varied cultural and geographic regional influences. An association to a profession did dictate the surname to some, but have the tides changed and we’ve gone full circle with the opposite ringing true? Does the inheritance of a last name, or a parent picked first name play a distinct role in careers we pick? 

Researchers have many notions into the subconscious influence that names have in job selection. Three of the more popular theories include the following:

Name letter effect

This researched observation asserts the proclivity of individuals to prefer the letters of their own name or initials above others, and subliminally giving inclination to tasks with letters that are shared within their name. This applies not only towards job titles or fields, but in chosen cities of habitat, relationship partners, even in the purchasing of items surrounding certain brands.

Apparently that might mean that, Tom is more likely to buy a Toyota, live in Toronto and marry Tonya, and a woman named Georgia will probably live in the state of Georgia.

Implicit egotism

This theory infers that because of a love of one’s self, there to be significant occurrences of the name of a person’s workplace with the first, to first three letters of their name.

Research into patterns in the 1990’s revealed for example, there to be disproportionally large amounts of dental professionals named Dennis and Denise and lawyers named Lauren.

Psychologist Wouter Duyck, supports as an effect of implicit egotism, that people are more likely to work with companies matching their own monogram. Likewise, Wharton professor Uri Simonsohn has pointed out that people like naming companies after themselves.

This effect has a noted marker in its stronger prevalence amongst women’s first names and in men’s last names.  Psychologists conceive this to be because of a woman’s anticipation of taking a future spouse’s last name.

Nominative determinism

The term, coined by a journalist for the British magazine New Scientist, describes the numerous cases of people who seem as though noticeably drawn to their profession because of their name.


Fashion model Chanel Iman (Robinson), was named Chanel because of her mother’s infatuation with CoCo Chanel. And if you’ve ever heard of the well-known model Iman, you wouldn’t be the first to think- wow her parents really wanted her to be a model! 

Celebrities have become known for the unique monikers they give their children. Could this be a result of their own membership in industries that demand such stand out visibility that many changed their legal names for performing purposes? There are scores of actors and actresses who for entry into the profession under Screen Actors Guild regulations selected new names. It will be interesting to see where life leads the son of American actor Jason Lee, considering he was named Pilot Inspektor. 

There are so many personality traits researchers, psychologists, and others alike have connected to characteristics of one’s name. At best, the influence of name and its implications for major life decisions remains a debatable topic. Names come in and out of fashion the same way trends do. Popular baby name databases give testimony to that.

So you tell me, is there any relevance the fact that my name is Margaret Barnes, I’m a lover of books and a writer by trade with a penchant for writing about mental health and behavioral psychology, I’ve been a bookseller with Borders, and for much of my life I lived in Missouri?