ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2015, Vol. 23 ›› Issue (5): 879-887.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2015.00879

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Psychological Impact of First Names: Individual Level and Group Level Evidence

SU Hong1,2; REN Xiaopeng1   

  1. (1 Key Laboratory of Behavioral Science, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China) (2 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China)
  • Received:2014-08-26 Online:2015-05-15 Published:2015-05-15
  • Contact: REN Xiaopeng, E-mail:


Firstname, a typical term used for identification, plays an extremely important role in social interactions. First names are among the earliest information available to people, given how quite often these are very first data exchanged during interpersonal communication. Recently, the rapid development of Internet, which is not necessarily inclusive of “face to face” contacts, has made the first names even more increasingly prominent and important in the initial interpersonal interaction stages. We have systematically reviewed relevant studies in psychology about first names at individual level and group level. At the individual level, researchers focused on the relations between first names and other psychological variables, like the relation between first names and self-identity of those who possess the names or the relation between first names and others’ evaluations of name-possessors. Studies revealed that first names can influence individual’s psychological state as well as name-possessors’ behavior. At the group level, as cultural products, first names have been used to examine the cultural evolution and cultural identity, which was mainly done by analyzing the frequency change of first names. Previous studies mostly focused on Western culture and respective first names practices, while little focus was placed on empirically exploring the distinctiveness of Chinese names. Since Chinese culture has its own cultural particularities, including the naming practices, psychologist should look further into these. Future empirical research should focus more on indigenous first names, like exploring changes in Chinese cross-generational individuality by using the percentage of Chinese popular names, or exploring the relation between masculine/feminine names and job-hunting or online-dating.

Key words: first names, psychological impact, job-hunting, online-dating, culture change