ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2021, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (6): 1067-1085.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2021.01067

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Psychological and behavioral effects of personal names in real world: Evidence and theories

BAO Han-Wu-Shuang, CAI Hua-Jian()   

  1. Center for Personality and Social Psychology, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
    Department of Psychology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2020-09-02 Online:2021-06-15 Published:2021-04-25
  • Contact: CAI Hua-Jian


Personal names not only can influence others' impression and evaluation, but also may affect individuals' own psychology and behavior in real world. Over the past century, psychologists have conducted numerous empirical studies in the domains of decision making, achievement, health, and personality to examine the actual impacts of surnames or given names on individuals. Various dimensions of names (e.g., name uniqueness, name gender, name valence, and name warmth-competence) could, more or less, predict human psychology and behavior (e.g., career/life/economic decisions, career/academic achievements, physical/mental health, criminal behavior, personality traits, psychological needs, and facial characteristics). However, existing evidence is mixed, and current theories are far from adequate. Future studies should examine multiple dimensions of names, deal with methodological problems (e.g., replicability, causality, mechanisms, and cross-cultural generalizability), and try best to develop more systematic and inclusive theories to explain the psychological and behavioral effects of names.

Key words: surname, given name, behavioral decision-making, individual difference, cross-cultural psychology

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