Study at Hebrew University of Jerusalem says your name can determine the way you look


The Hebrew University of Jerusalem has carried out a study suggesting that a person’s name influences how they look.

Researchers from the university showed participants in the study photographs of random people, and asked them to guess their names from a list of options.

The participants repeatedly identified the correct names based on facial appearance alone.

In one typical case, 75 per cent of participants correctly selected “Dan” as the name of the one of the people in the photographs.

Dr Ruth Mayo, the senior lecturer in the Department of Psychology who ran the study with PhD student Yonat Zwebner, said: “Our research demonstrates that indeed people do look like their name.

“Furthermore, we suggest this happens because of a process of self-fulfilling prophecy, as we become what other people expect us to become.

“A name is an external social factor, different from other social factors such as gender or ethnicity, therefore representing an ultimate social tag.

“The demonstration of our name being manifested in our facial appearance illustrates the great power that a social factor can have on our identity, potentially influencing even the way we look.”

Jewish parents contacted by the JC agreed there appeared to be some truth to the findings.

History buff Sarah Stanton named her son Kovner, aged eight, after Abba Kovner, a Jewish freedom fighter who brought together the divided factions of the Vilna ghetto to fight against the Nazis.

The mother, from Muswell Hill, north London, said: “My husband and I are big into history and when I read about Kovner I knew that was the name it had to be.”

She said her son “wears his name well” and while he is not, “quite a freedom fighter leading a resistance, he is a strong character.”

Mrs Stanton added: “Interestingly, he has ended up in a class with kids with quite unusual names. He understands his name has meaning and I guess that has shaped him in some way.

“Our daughter is called Zoe which means life and she is actually full of life so I agree with the research.”

Raymond Simonson, the CEO of the JW3 community centre, named his son Mossy, nine, after his late father.

He said: “Because it is an unusual name I don’t think people have the frame of reference to say he looks like a ‘Mossy’. His sister always says ‘he doesn’t look like moss’.

“But I think he suits his name. He has a cheeky smile and a mop of curly hair and I think his name sounds fun and cheerful and messy like him.”

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