Bad Names for Online Dating

New research by Jochen E. Gebauer and two co-authors, summarized in the BPS Research Digest, analyzed data from a German dating website and found that an unpopular name will lessen your chances of getting a date in the online dating universe:

The main finding here was that people with unfashionable names like Kevin or Chantal were dramatically more likely to be rejected by other users (i.e. other users tended to choose not to contact them). A user with the most popular name (Alexander) received on average double the number of contacts as someone with the least popular name (Kevin) … However, the researchers also found that people with unpopular names were more likely to smoke, had lower self-esteem and were less educated. What’s more, the link between the popularity of their name and these life outcomes was mediated by the amount of rejection they suffered on the dating site – as if rejection on the site were a proxy for the amount of social neglect they’d suffered in life.

Apparently, Kevin really is more than a name.

Mike B

Yes, Kevin is an annoying rooster at a barn I frequent.

"Shut Up Kevin!!"

Wanda Hugeboobs

I don't understand all fuss about names.


Your name is a core part of your identity.

But in this case, it's a proxy for the parents' education (because educated people tend to choose biblical or classical names, while uneduated people are more likely to name their kids after movie characters or celebrities).

Ian M

Kevin didn't need online dating. He was with Winnie Cooper.


The initial and sometimes extended contact at in the US is made under a handle or pseudonym (mine's "SoberForNineDays"), so I dont get the relevance.

Oh, and can someone get DYFS to go snag the children from the incredibly high percentage of single moms that think it is a good idea to to post their kid's pictures on a dating site? For god's sake, there are people like me out there.

Dan Woog

What about the fact that so many criminals have the middle name "Wayne"?


Of course, Hollywood has for a long time changed actors' names -- mainly because the original names were hard to pronounce or didn't sound sexy enough.

Or take "Stephen King." Could you imagine a bestselling author named Melvin Podznovsky? Or Iggy Freebie? Or any other name taken from MAD Magazine...?

OK, a man named "Barack Hussein Obama" was elected President. But you gotta admit the name does sound more authoritative than, say, Joe-Bob Hungerstedt...

Lisa in Berlin

It needs to be mentioned here that Kevin is not a German name at all, but became really popular here after the movie Home Alone came out, particularly with (or so the stereotype goes) less educated people who imagined it would be exciting and classy give their kid a "real American" name. So now those kids born in 1991 are adults, and the name Kevin, to Germans, is the quintessential "trailer trash" name. Chantal (classy because it's French!) is the female counterpart.


Careful with the cause/effect relationship on this one. In Britain, Kevin is a name disproportionately associated with a working class (blue collar) socio-economic background. This socio-economic background in turn is a predictor of success in life. So... Kevin is discriminated against because girls are not as hot for coal miners as they are for high-street lawyers and... you would expect that a working class background to predict less successes in life when compared to a silver spoon background.

John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt

I suggest "funny names" be forever banned from Freakonomics Blogs.


@John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt: That's my name too!


Amusingly enough, Kevin and Alexander were the two finalists when we were picking names for our son.


Names play a big role in our society. People who are famous change their names to become more popular and many people who do not like their first name go by a different name. As much as we do not think it, many people judge off of names. Names give us a first look at a person, even if the person's personality is not reflected in their name.


My mom named me god with a lower case g. Ruined my life. Thanks mom.


True story. Back before it was funny because Letterman named his dog "Bob", I named my labrador retriever "Kevin."

Got a lot of laughs.

Katie Daniel

I think all of the fuss about the name affecting the person is not true. The research is very far fetched, and I think it is just a statistic to get people worked up. The fact that the name Kevin wasn't very popular in Germany is a very important fact we need to focus on. If that research had been in America and a popular German name had been used I'm sure the same results would have occured.


Tell me about it. I get told to buck off more than i can count. and I can count really well.

Scott Andrew Hutchins

Really, in Germany, Biblical names are associated with the educated? Except for the common ones, Biblical names suggest Bible-belt hillbilly in the U.S., not educated.