Which baby names ensure success? Ask Dr. Mehrabian!
Tuesday, May 12th, 2009
A perfect baby name predestines success without giving off the stench of banality. At least, that was my theory when I began researching The Perfect Baby Handbook. But I needed proof. Luckily, I stumbled upon “Baby Name Report Card: Beneficial and Harmful Baby Names,” a qualitative analysis based on large-scale surveys conducted over 10 years by Dr. Albert Mehrabian, a professor emeritus at UCLA. (I realize this sounds fishy—me being a Dale Hrabi and him a Mehrabian—but I’m not making this up.)
The doctor was demanding $26 for his study (dated 2002), which seemed rip-offish. Still, as a journalist, I didn’t hesitate: What if my own name had been insidiously harming me all these years?
A convincingly nerdy looking CD arrived in the mail. Fascinating. Dr. Mehrabian’s team had asked people to rate thousands of names (from 0 to 100) on four scales: ethical/caring, popular/fun, successful, and masculine/feminine. I quickly located the data on “Dale.” Cringe: 50 on ethics? A bleak 43 on popular/fun, a measly 36 on the success scale and I can’t talk about the rest. In short, my parents predestined me to be a boring, androgynous failure with iffy morals.
Here’s the good news: I’m going to save you 26 bucks by revealing the top 10 most and least “successful” names for boys and girls circa 2002, according to Mehrabian and crew:
Top 10 Girl Names “That Connote a Successful Person”: 1. Jacqueline. 2. Morgan. 3. Elizabeth. 4. Katherine. 5. Victoria. 6. Lauraine. 7. Susan. 8. Catherine. 9. Kate. 10. Madeleine. Note: Madeleine and Morgan, both perceived as glory-bound, tanked on the popular/fun scale. And no, I can’t explain Lauraine.
Top 10 Girl Names That Connote Failure: 1. Wilma. 2. Weeza. 3. Virgie. 4. Trixie. 5. Tina. 6. Swoosie. 7. Suzee. 8. Soosie. 9. Sissy. 10. Mush. Note: Runners-up include Siouxsie, but not her Banshees.
Top 10 Boy Names “That Connote a Successful Person”: 1. Steven. 2. Ross. 3. Christopher. 4. James. 5. Robert 6. David. 7. Kenneth. 8. Parker. 9. Thomas. 10. Madison. Note: The high ranking of “Madison” seems suspiciously 2002. Also: Ross? Did none of the survey takers watch “Friends”?
Top 10 Boy Names That Connote a Washed-up Loser: 1. Rufus. 2. Rude. 3. Butch. 4. Angel. 5. Alfie. 6. Garee (Gary). 7. Normee. 8. Bud. 9. Petie. 10. Phonso. Note: So if you really want to screw your kid, just name him “Rude Butch Angel.”