Baby Names Reveal More About Parents Than Ever Before - Singapore Forums by
Singapore Forums by
Sitemap Contact Us FAQ Singapore Forums by
Home Photos Member List Register Mark Forums Read  
Go Back Home > Lifestyle > Love & Relationships > Family Matters » Baby Names Reveal More About Parents Than Ever Before

Why aren't you a member of yet??

» Join 130,000+ other members in chatting.
» Make lots of new friends here.
» Keep up-to-date with current events.
» Participate in Club outings.
» Download lots of Free Stuff!

Registration just takes 2mins and is absolutely free so join our community today!

I Want to Choose my Own Personal Nickname Now!

LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 4th January 2011, 11:05 PM   #1 (permalink)
Experienced SGClubber
fgfmse is on a distinguished road

fgfmse's Avatar
Posts: 5,946
Join Date: Jul 2009
Likes: 0
Liked 4 Times in 3 Posts

Baby Names Reveal More About Parents Than Ever Before

The names people choose to give their children communicate a wealth of social information — more so now than ever before.

A new analysis of name statistics suggests that the meaning conveyed by a baby's name — that is, what a name tells others about the parents' tastes and background — has ramped up significantly over the last 25 years as baby names have become more diverse and numerous.

"We're in the middle of a naming revolution," said Laura Wattenberg, author of the popular book "The Baby Name Wizard" (Three Rivers Press, 2005) and creator of the website "Parents are putting a much higher premium on distinctiveness."

In a recent blog post, Wattenberg explored how this trend has changed the very meaning and purpose of a name.

Pursuing uniqueness en masse

As Wattenberg points out, in the 1950s, the top 25 most common boy's names and the top 50 girl's names accounted for half of babies born. Today, however, those top names are given to fewer babies. In fact, you'd have to include the most popular 134 boy's names and the top 320 girl's names to cover half of all babies born every year. [Most Popular Baby Names in History]

"If you have 10 guesses to get somebody's name today there's almost no chance you'll get it," Wattenberg told LiveScience. "But 100 years ago, if you guessed the top 10 names you'd have a really good chance" of guessing correctly.

But with these changes in naming trends come social implications.

"The more diverse naming styles become, the more we are going to read into somebody's name," Wattenberg said. She analyzed baby name statistics from the U.S. Social Security Administration to calculate a measure called Shannon entropy from the field of information theory. This measure is used to describe the information contained in a message — in this case, how much is communicated by the choice of a name.

The concept of entropy is associated with the disorder and chaos in a system (the second law of thermodynamics states that a closed system will always move toward higher entropy). Shannon entropy describes the relationship between how much disorder or uncertainty is associated with a certain variable, and how much information is stored in a message. The more diverse and uncertain the field of possible messages, the more information the message will contain.

Wattenberg calculated a sharp rise in name entropy over time. She found that this measure of the information carried by names has risen as much in the past 25 years as it did in the full century before that. (The measure is independent of the number of babies born.)

That means that meeting a baby named Mary today tells you a lot more about the girl's parents than meeting a baby with the same name 50 years ago would have. And the same goes for any name you can think of.

The sociology of names

Names communicate so much, because they often embody parents' values and tastes, as well as dreams and ambitions for their child.

"Sociologists love names," Wattenberg said. "They're practically the only case of a choice with broad fashion patterns that there's no commercial influence on. There's no company out there spending millions to convince you Brayden is a perfect name for your son." (Studies have shown that movies, celebrities and other cultural trends do have an impact on the popularity of certain names.)

To understand how the meaning communicated through names has evolved, Wattenberg suggests thinking about an office with a dress code requiring all employees to wear gray or blue suits to work every day. Seeing a man dressed in a blue suit in such an environment would tell you very little about that man's taste or personality.

Compare that to an office with no dress code. Here employees' sartorial choices vary widely, so the outfit worn by anyone in that office could tell you a fair bit about that person as an individual. In this case, the same blue suit might reveal significant clues about its wearer.

The same goes for names. In an era where there are a lot more choices available, each choice carries more weight.

Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, called Wattenberg's work an "interesting analysis" and said, "It looks solid to me."

Twenge, author of book "The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement" (Free Press, April 2009), said the shift toward unique names was part of a broader social shift toward individualism in many aspects of our lives.

"It is much more common now for people to say, 'I want my child to stand out,'" Twenge said. "Naming a kid used to be an easier decision. Now you have to strike a balance in finding a name that isn't too popular, and isn't too weird."

And the fact that everyone who meets a child will now be able to glean more information from his or her name just adds to the predicament.

That means that parents-to-be who obsess over the choice of what to name their bun in the oven are justified in devoting hours to the decision. As Wattenberg wrote, "They're not just obsessive, they're responding to a new reality. I can prove it."

Seeds of a revolution

So how did names evolve to favor uniqueness over popularity?

Certainly the Internet is part of it. The social networking and easy communication with people beyond one's geographical local sphere means more sources of influence surround parents when deciding on a name. And with the rise of online user names — often based on a person's real name — comes an added incentive for that name to be one that no one else has.

"The idea of your name as a unique signifier that separates you from everyone else — that's a new idea," Wattenberg said. "Names never had to be unique. But today your name is often the first way and sometimes the only way people know you."

While it used to be enough to have a name unique to your neighborhood, now many parents are deterred if it's a name more than a few people in the world share.

Yet Twenge stressed that the trend toward distinctive names started before the Internet became so important.

Statistics show the diversification of baby names began in the 1960s, at the same time that Americans started placing more emphasis on individuality and less on collectivity and fitting in.

Also, the advent of name statistics has undoubtedly shaped naming trends. The Social Security Administration has only recently made baby name data available. Before that, people had anecdotal reasons to think a given name was popular or scarce, but they couldn't be sure. Now every year the country's most popular names are ranked and released.

"It's had a huge effect," Wattenberg said of the data. "There's a kind of reverse competitiveness that nobody wants to be number one."

And as much as people strive for uniqueness, ultimately humans are social animals that still want to fit in.

"We all want to be different from each other, but our tastes are still as much alike as they ever were," Wattenberg said. "So the result is we have a thousand tiny variations on a theme. You get Kayden, Brayden, Hayden, Jayden."

Good or Bad, Baby Names Have Long-lasting Effects

life is but full of unsalvageable regrets, knowledge is power & genuine friends are god bless

Last edited by fgfmse; 4th January 2011 at 11:08 PM.
fgfmse is offline  
Add to fgfmse's Reputation Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Drugged lovers in Quanzhou reveal real names only after arrest fgfmse International & Singapore News 4 14th November 2010 02:11 PM
Odex saga: PacNet does not have to reveal names phelps Anime Chat 47 10th December 2008 08:37 PM
Baby names Weiwei SGClub Cafe 7 10th November 2008 10:18 AM
6 Baby Names You Probably Shouldn’t Give Your Kid evo SGClub Cafe 0 19th October 2008 04:06 AM
Baby Names Baby_Nutz SGClub Cafe 18 30th September 2008 09:03 AM

» Sponsors
Watch Free Movies Online
Celebrity Gossip
Food Delivery

» Facebook Fans
» What's Going On?
Title, Username, & Date
[Hard Truth] 69.9% of Singaporeans are more stupid than dogs and monkeys.
[Poor Health] Karma strikes ex-Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan hard.
Hepatitis E infections surge in Singapore, virus found in raw pork liver: SGH
Christianity and Buddhism have more in common than differences: (moderation and restr
[SG] Wants higher birth rate, but unwilling to fund treatment for childhood mental pr
E-scooter rider going at 28km/h at void deck injures man’s leg, gets 6 weeks’ jail
PMD users warned: Behave responsibly or face total ban
Supplier iPassion fined for putting SAFETY marks on unregistered PMD charging adaptors
SFA recalls US brand of flour over possible bacteria contamination
Female infant and male occupant sent to hospital after PMD-related fire in Bukit Batok...
Repost comment.
Top income brackets should be taxed at 99%.
Do you know?
480GB Transcend ESD350C Portable SSD Review
SFA suspends import of quail eggs from Malaysian farm due to drug residues
King Arthur Flour product recalled due to potential presence of E. coli
FS (10Pieces) Apple iPhone 11/11 Pro/11 Pro Max(Website$6...
Inspirational Songs
Instead of increase GST, what other more progressive wealth tax options (e.g. Replace
Elderly should be given free e-scooter try outs ASAP.
Featured Photos
by marisoljames322
· · ·
Member Galleries
20359 photos
by marisoljames322
· · ·
Member Galleries
20359 photos
by pdsubbu
· · ·
Member Galleries
20359 photos
by Vikas Dhar
· · ·
35 photos
by aaudreygan
· · ·
Guy Photos
1581 photos
by aaudreygan
· · ·
Girl Photos
4351 photos
by a8paris
· · ·
Guy Photos
1581 photos
by a8paris
· · ·
Guy Photos
1581 photos
by aaricia
· · ·
Girl Photos
4351 photos
by aaricia
· · ·
Girl Photos
4351 photos


All times are GMT +8. The time now is 01:07 AM.

Powered by vBulletin
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright© 2004-2013 All rights reserved.