People with the surname “Doctor” were more likely to be doctors than lawyers, and those with the last name “Lawyer” were more likely to be lawyers, according to the studies by Professor Ernest Abel of Wayne State University.
But, really, how many people have the last name “Doctor” or “Lawyer?”
Amazingly, one study found that there was a connection between the first few letters of a physicians’ surnames and his or her speciality: for example, Raymonds were more likely to be radiologists. Does this mean if you name a daughter Gina, she’ll be more likely to be a gynecologist?
My uncle, an accountant, had a partner whose last name was “Tax,” so maybe there’s some truth to these findings.
Now I’m worried. Our daughters’ last name is “Orkin.” Does that mean they’re destined to be exterminators? This is one reason I prefer using my “maiden” name of Bernstein since people generally think of Leonard Bernstein when they hear it. That’s a much better association than The Orkin Man.
The news that there’s an association between names and professions shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to anyone. Research has long suggested that a baby’s name can have a lasting influence on his or her life. Giving a boy a feminine sounding name could result in behavioral issues during adolescence and girls with masculine sounding names have been found to be more interested in science and math. That’s certainly been the case so far with my daughter, Jesse.
And some say that unusual baby names could cause problems too.
“There is a reason why baby name books are extremely popular,” said David Figlio, professor of education and social policy at Northwestern University. “We’re always trying to think about the first bit of a child’s identity and so if we as a society pay a lot of attention to names it makes a lot of sense that people’s names might influence how they think about themselves and the way in which people might think about them.”
It’s possible that from an early age, kids fulfill other people’s expectations of them based on their name. Some names might unfairly tag a child as underachieving while other names suggest aristocracy. Anecdotally, I haven’t met any doctors named Sunshine or Moonbeam.
What do you think? Do your child’s name suggest a certain future career path?
Photo: Jason Dunn