Lilian Min
Updated Mar 26, 2017 @ 11:00 am
first name plate
Credit: HBO

Though my name is Lilian, I go by Lily in my daily life. When people realize my “real” first name, they often show surprise. People place a lot of expectations upon names, but new research suggests that these expectations are even stronger than you might think.

Researchers claim that your first name is so important than it can literally change your appearance.

Let’s break this down. That phrase, “Oh, you look like a so-and-so” comes out of the very real stereotypes people have about names. And when researchers asked subjects to pair four women with four names, it’d make sense for subjects to get it right 25% of the time. Instead, that figure came in at closer to 40%, suggesting that there are physical cues in naming.

Then they crunched the faces, or rather, superimposed faces of same-named people together. In this way, researchers built composites of certain names. Here, they noticed that certain facial characteristics seemed to correspond to certain names.

However, these assertions fall apart once you move outside of a “cultural group.” An American Emily doesn’t mean the same thing once you move outside of America. And nicknames again remove yourself from your name’s stereotype. Still, “What’s in a name?” Apparently, everything.