Saturday, November 13, 2010

Third post about how unusual boy's names (don't really) lead to criminals

Last year I made two blog posts on a "study" that claimed that unusual names for boys lead to them growing up to be criminals. Here is a better discussion I found on the research.

Three more points from me that show that their study doesn't really hold water, especially for a parent in the present times making a naming decision:

1. Continuing the generational points, today's most popular names - for both boys and girls - comprise a much smaller percentage of births than when most of those criminals in that study were born. This means that having an unusual name is more "normal" than back then, and thus how the study claimed that they made such children feel less accepted really doesn't apply for today's babies and children (if anything the opposite is probably true).

2. The sample size of a prison where the researchers would have obtained their stats on criminals' names is typically much smaller than a typical official popularity list based on births over a year's time. What this does is make an uncommon name that a single criminal (or two) happens to bear appear artificially high on the prison's name popularity list compared to where it would appear with a larger pool of individuals, and ignores the many more uncommon names that do not show up on any criminals in the sample.

3. The guys who performed the study are named David and Daniel; since they have very common names they probably introduced some bias into that study (since they would probably want to make themselves feel better by saying that common names are best). I don't know if this is actually true or not, but I strongly suspect it.

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