|By Alan Hall, originally published in the July 2011 Socionomist|
A spate of headlines shows that celebrities recently embraced increasingly unusual names:
- “Mariah Carey reveals twins’ names as ‘Moroccan’ and ‘Monroe’”1
- “Alicia Silverstone names baby boy ‘Bear Blu’”2
- “Have celebrity baby names gone too far?”3
Near the Super Cycle mood peak in October 2000, Jermaine Jackson—the late Michael’s older brother—named his son “Jermajesty.” In 2004, after another rally, movie star Gwyneth Paltrow named her daughter “Apple.” During the more recent run-up in mood, soccer star David Beckham named his new daughter “Harper Seven.” And the fastest-rising baby names in 2010 were “Bentley” and “Maci,” according to
These are not just isolated anecdotes. The May 2010 issue of The Socionomist used data from “Fitting In or Standing Out: Trends in American Parents’ Choices for Children’s Names, 1880-2007,” by Jean M. Twenge, Emodish M. Abebe, and W. Keith Campbell to demonstrate a strong correlation between social mood and popular baby names:
[P]arents tend to give their children increasingly unique names during bull markets and increasingly ordinary names during bear markets. … Socionomics suggests that parents’ tendency to choose ordinary names during bear markets reflects an evolutionary survival tactic: Blend with the herd in times of fear and uncertainty. It is logical that during bear markets, parents unconsciously fear that an unusual name could hurt their children’s future job prospects or ability to fit in. During bull markets, on the other hand, parents feel that an unusual name will help their children stand out in a positive way.
In Chapter 13 of The Wave Principle of Human Social Behavior (1999), Robert Prechter observed a similar dynamic in fashion trends:
When people feel bold and frisky, they buy stocks and wear more revealing clothes. When they feel threatened and conservative, they sell stocks and wear more concealing clothes.
Figure 1 on page 7 shows this baby name/stock market correlation graphically. A recent UK study of 3,000 parents suggests moms and dads should name their children carefully: “One in five parents regret the name they gave their child.”5 One Twitter user commented that he hoped Alicia Silverstone’s son Bear Blu “grows up to be 6’5” 230 [pounds].” Perhaps the tweeter was mindful of the 1969 song, “A Boy Named Sue.”
Indeed, if EWI’s forecast for a social mood downturn proves correct, today’s parents may regret giving their children unconventional names.
Alan Hall writes for The Socionomist.
1Harmsworth, A. (2011, May 5). Mariah carey reveals twins’ names as moroccan and monroe. Metro, Retrieved from http://www.metro.co.uk/home/9454-contact-us on June 3, 2011.
2Alicia silverstone names baby boy bear blu (2011, May 10). The Sydney Morning Herald, Retrieved from http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/people/alicia-silverstone-names-baby-boy-bear-blu-20110510-1eg8b.html on June 3, 2011.
3Fleming, K. (2011, May 10). Have celebrity baby names gone too far? New York Post, Retrieved from http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/have_celebrity_baby_names_gone_too_nMVolXZdmUjKFI1NO2TppL on June 3, 2011.
4Wattenberg, L. (2011, May 5). The fastest-rising baby names of 2010: triumph of the teen mom. The Baby Name Wizard, Retrieved from http://www.babynamewizard.com/archives/2011/5/the-fastest-rising-baby-names-of-2010-triumph-of-the-teen-mom on June 5, 2011.
5Revealed: baby name regrets (2010, May 10). The Sun, Retrieved from http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/2966872/Revealed-Baby-name-regrets.html on June 5, 2011.
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