August 11, 2004

I'm Too Sexy For My Name…

If you ever feel like a rat in a maze while cruising the Internet, you might be right. Amy Perfors of MIT experimented on Internet users at a website she called "Hot or Not."

She posted pictures of men and women along with a fake first name and asked users to rank their attractiveness.

She found that men labelled with names including “front vowels,” such as the “aaa” sound in Matt were rated as more attractive by website viewers than photos labeled with “back vowel” names, such as the “aw” sound in Paul. The opposite was true for women’s names.

Cool. St"eee"phen is a front vowel name. But why are front vowels more attractive?

Front vowels, those produced in the front of the mouth, are often perceived as smaller than back vowels, those produced in the back of the mouth.

It may seem counterintuitive that men named with the smaller-sounding front vowel are rated as more attractive. But other studies have shown that men with slightly feminine features are considered more desirable, says Perfors. “Maybe women are subconsciously looking for more sensitive or gentle men,” she says.

So, Stephen is a good name because it sounds small and sensitive. I'm not sure how to take that. Why don't I just start calling myself "Sue?"

…having too feminine a name could backfire for men – as those labelled with women’s names were rated least attractive. However, having a man’s name – such as Bob – had no negative effect on a woman’s attractiveness to website viewers.

A girl named Charlie is going to do better than the boy named Sue. That seems intuitive. But what if an attractive guy has an unattractive name? I've always thought that a charismatic attractive person could make any name work.

“An attractive person with a bad vowel name is still more attractive than an unattractive person with a good vowel name,” says Perfors.
Posted by Stephen Gordon at August 11, 2004 09:27 AM | TrackBack

Hmmm...Phil. Front vowel.

This really seems to work!

Posted by: Phil at August 11, 2004 01:46 PM
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