What’s in a name?

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According to a study by M.I.T., the first name of a person has a large influence on their perceived sexiness. The attraction associated with names is said to be determined by the vowel sound – so before you go changing your name to popular strippers’ personae like Candy, Paris, and Valentine; you should first verify whether your name contains a “front vowel” or a “back vowel.”


Names with front vowels (tongue positioned to the front of the mouth, such as “a” in Matt) are most appealing to women, while back vowels (think “aw” in Paul) were displeasing. For men, results were much the opposite with preferences tending towards back vowel names (Jordan and Rachel), while front vowel names like Katie or Emily got the cold-shoulder.

Linguist Amy Perfors examined name-sexiness by showing pictures of people labeled with different names on the “Hot or Not?” site, and consequently measured how attractive strangers thought they were (as determined by ratings).

If you’re a Katie or Paul out there now feeling like a hideous ogre, don’t despair. Perfors’ name-game was carried out using the same picture of a person and how their name influenced their own desirability – ignoring that the person’s appearance formed the basis of the ratings to begin with. As stated by Perfors, “An attractive person with a bad vowel name is still more attractive than an unattractive person with a good vowel name.” This explains why celebrities such as Nicole Kidman and Kate Beckinsale (both front-vowel first namers) are still not considered ugly.

So unless whoever you’re dating is blind, or has a vowel fetish -hey, never underestimate the importance of tongue-positioning! – rest assured, this study should not in anyway influence your sex appeal.

links:
newscientist

bbc

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