"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. Gustavo says:

    I am in Chile. Here English and German names are “Nice and cool”, but when a poor family called its children “kevin” “jonathan” and “Shirley” could be discriminated them in 90%. However the family have inmigrants background, Jean Paul Edwards (England), Juan Cristobal Aristizabal (Spanish) Herman Kunstmann (German) have a “positive discrimination”….. fail.

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  2. Herbert says:

    @brazzy: Second that.

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  3. D says:

    Are we sure that certain personlity characterstics — passed on from parents to child — don’t vary as names get weirder and weirder?

    For example, at some point giving your kid an extrememely goofy or odd name is a bit narcissistic, imo.

    Weird names generally are probably given by parents who would score higher on the trait called openness.

    Might IQ vary.

    50% of the variation on most personality characteristics are due to genes.

    40-80% of the variation of IQ is due to genes.

    If weird naming tracks personality/intelligence in a non-random way, and these things are passed on, then you’d expect systematic differences in ratings.

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  4. not Hoga says:

    This is not confined to low SES. “Liam.” You know it’s just not going to end well.

    BTW, love the name Astrid. Can’t use it because my spouse said no ethnic names. Sigh.

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  5. Eric says:

    One of the first Germans I met was named Kevin, and undoubtedly from a middle-class family.

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  6. Kevin says:

    Adolf is worse.

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  7. Kate Joyner says:

    The Australian media would have a field day with the “Kevin diagnosis”… our Prime Minister (Rudd) as problem child! Now I think about it….

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  8. B says:

    as German is pointing out: in my opinion this has nothing to do with the fact that they are foreign names – it has to do that English names are mostly a lower-class phenomenon.

    There are simply no traditionalists in Germany which would name their child Kevin or Justin (there are hardly any ancestors with these names).

    You can replace these names with typical “black” names (like in the Freakonomics book, e.g. DeShawn and DeAndre) and ask yourself if this is really that different in the US.

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