• Left- or Right-Handed? It Affects the Way you Name your Baby

    Part of a theory called the QWERTY effect
  • baby keyboard

    There’s a reason Miko, Paolo, and Kim are popular baby names, and it has nothing to do with being namesakes of celebrities. 

    In a study by the University of Chicago which analyzed the top 100 baby names for the last half-century, it was found that most of the letters used among these popular names were more from the right side of the keyboard. 

    The study, led by psychologist Daniel Casasanto, claims that since the year 1990, what he calls the “keyboard-centric era” had already begun. Casasanto and co-researchers Kyle Jasmin, Geoffrey Brookshier and Tom Gijssels base this belief from the theory that people have a tendency to prefer or like things based on their dominant side.

    Casasanto et al observed that beginning 1990, more and more names for at least 100 babies over a 50-year period, had letters mostly coming from the right side of the keyboard. They call this development the “QWERTY effect”.

    “It doesn’t mean that suddenly everyone is naming all of their babies with letters from the right side instead of the left,” Casasanto said in an interview with time.com. “This means this is a very clear influence that is contributing to the choices we make. This is an effect that works unconsciously and can only be detected statistically.”

    “We discovered that people implicitly associate good stuff, positive things with their dominant side of space and bad things with their non-dominant side,” added Casasanto.

    Casasanto conducted a study wherein participants were shown two photos of aliens—one on the left side and one on the right side -- and were asked to choose which one they felt was nicer or more honest. 

    More often than not, even when the photos of the aliens were switched, the participants picked that which was on their dominant side -- if they were left-handed, they would choose the one on their left, and if they were right-handed, they would choose the one on their right. Casasanto got the same results for his succeeding studies, even if he replaced the subject. 

    “Because we interact with things on our dominant side more fluently and with a greater sense of ease, we come to associate that side with positive things, and the other side, where we interact more clumsily, with negative,” Casasanto said.

    “This intuition that we have a stable mental dictionary, a mental encyclopedia, is so deeply ingrained in psychology and linguistics, threats to that are threatening to our mind-view. What we’re showing here is a new sense of non-arbitrariness in language, a new way in which the form of a word and the way we articulate it—not with our mouth but with our fingers—is connected to the meaning of those words.”

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    Now think about what name you gave your baby – is the theory correct?

     

    Sources:

    March 8, 2012. Rebecca Rosen. “The QWERTY effect” languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu 

    May 10, 2014. Katy Steinmetz. “Study: Keyboards Are Influencing What You Name Your Baby” time.com 

    Daniel Casasanto, Kyle Jasmin, Geoffrey Brookshire, Tom Gijssels. “How typing shapes word meanings and baby names” casasanto.com

     

    Photo from mistmedia.com

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