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What's in a Name?

Would changing your name change the way people think aboutyou? Linguist Amy Perfors put photos with fake names on a"Hot or Not" website and found that some names wereconsidered "hot"?while others definitely were not.

In case you've ever thought changing your name might improveyour social life, Perfors found that men with names that had"front vowels," such as the "aaa" sound in Matt, were ratedas more attractive by website visitors than photos labeledwith "back vowel" names, such as the "aw" sound in Paul.Emily Singer writes in New Scientist that the opposite wastrue for women's names, so we must perceive the "aaa" soundas masculine and the "aw" sound as feminine.

Front vowels, produced in the front of the mouth, are oftenperceived as smaller than back vowels, produced in the backof the mouth. But why would smaller-seeming vowels make menseem more attractive? The opposite would make more sense.But other studies show that men with slightly femininefeatures are considered more desirable by women. Perforssays, "Maybe women are subconsciously looking for moresensitive or gentle men."

But it doesn't work if men seem too feminine, since men withwomen's names were rated least attractive. But for women,having a man's name had no effect on their perceivedattractiveness. Could it be that, contrary to popularopinion, men like "masculine" women?

But despite all this, Perfors says, "An attractive personwith a bad vowel name is still more attractive than anunattractive person with a good vowel name."

Want to guarantee a romantic future without changing yourname? Listen to the wisdom of thekitchenwitch!

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