Do you want your daughter to impress people as successful, intelligent and ambitious? Name her Jacqueline, Katherine, Samantha or Victoria. Want your son to be viewed as healthy, athletic and confident? Consider Chad, Rick, John or Mark.
Names are such a powerful part of first impressions that they can affect success and psychological well-being, according to Albert Mehrabian, a psychology professor at the University of California at Los Angeles.
For his new book "The Name Game," Mehrabian surveyed about 2,000 people on the qualities they associated with 1,800 first names. Each respondent was asked to imagine meeting for the first time people with each of about 20 different names. They then assessed the resulting expectations in six categories: success, morality, cheerfulness, warmth, health and masculinity or femininity. Subjects were asked not to associate a name with a specific person, and were not allowed to rate their own names.
The most masculine name? Conan led the pack. Bunny was viewed as most feminine. Winners in the morality category were Moses and Prudence.
Only a handful of names scored well in all six categories. Among the top men's names were James, Robert, Hans and Kenneth. The highest-ranking women's names included Ann, Catherine, Diana, Julie and Karen.
Mehrabian's advice to parents: Stick with the old standbys. Avoid nicknames, which rate poorly. "If I were to name a child, I probably would select a name that would not easily have a nickname to go with it," he said.