"Kevin Is Not a Name — It's a Diagnosis!"

We’ve written extensively about the consequences of baby naming. The name you choose for your children can affect his “Google-ability” or even get you in trouble with the law. A new survey of 2,000 elementary school teachers in Germany finds that your children’s names may also affect how teachers perceive them (translation available here). An overwhelming majority of the teachers surveyed associate “traditional” names with positive character traits and non-traditional names with weak performance and bad behavior. The name Kevin has particularly negative connotations; as one teacher wrote, “Kevin is not a name — it’s a diagnosis!” Astrid Kaiser, who conducted the study, said, “The names with positive connotations are all traditional German ones. What this shows is that children from a working class or immigrant background are clearly being discriminated against.” (HT: Herbert Engels) [%comments]

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  1. Psittakos says:

    It’s amusing to see “Kevin” singled out as one of the trashiest. It is a name of respectable-enough origin. There is a Saint Kevin, who is slightly better known than Saint Hubbins (the patron saint of quality footwear).

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  2. Kevin says:

    I’ve been called many things in my life, but this would be the first time anyone’s called me a inefficient problem child…

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  3. Caitlyn says:

    hmmm….. my parents gave all of us offbeat names, and we were pretty uniformly loved by our teachers. I’d want to look at naming trends in general in Germany, I think.

    Kip has an excellent point – is this causation or correlation?

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  4. tom says:

    Astrid Kaiser says that “Kevin” is a non-traditional name. I’m not from Germany, so, maybe that makes perfect sense over there.

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  5. Kirilius says:

    “What this shows is that children from a working class or immigrant background are clearly being discriminated against” – well, a kid’s name can clearly reveal an immigrant background but how does it suggest the “working class” of the parents?

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    • Nina says:

      Well, in Germany names such as Kevin or Dustin or Chantal or Mandy are strongly associated with being “white trash”. Similarly to people in the US called Shaneisha etc. are associated with being an African American on a certain social level in society.

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  6. German says:

    Most English-sounding names (Kevin, Tyler, Mandy, Cindy, etc) are taken off movies and television definitely signal lower-class status in Germany. Astrid, as a Swedish name, is actually pretty popular. When we named our son Felix, we were very conscious about class connotations, as at sine point, the name will be seen on a resume.

    I do think the same problem exists in the U.S. – Misty, Jamaal, Meisha – all names that are likely to get your resume screened out before you can ever set foot in the door.

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  7. di says:

    What this shows is that if you ask 2000 people a question, you will get at least one person saying something obnoxious.

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  8. Kevin says:

    Oh so it’s true

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