Sunday, March 27, 2016

Name Twins (03/27/16)

Happy Easter!

Let's take attendance. Martha?
(no response)
Absent. Frank?
Here! Here!
Oh, sorry girls, I meant Andrea J.
(Andrea M sighs.)

I kinda like meeting a name twin. They understand what it's like to have your name, and it's fun to watch someone who is super confused figure out that both of you share a name. It isn't fun, though, when you're walking down a hallway and you hear your name, only to turn around and realize that someone was trying to get your name twin's attention.

Do you ever meet people who are name twins and wonder why they seem so alike? I mean, not everyone is going to look or act exactly the same as everyone else with the same first name, but I can't help noticing that they act more alike than they would with other people. There are some names that always seem to be yelled (which means that they're in trouble or they've wandered off again) and some names that are held in a higher honor because the people who have them earn their integrity and don't do much to lose it. 

But why are they so alike? Names aren't chosen by the personality of the child because usually the child isn't even born before the name is chosen. Even if the naming process begins after birth, you can't tell much about who the child will be just by looking at it unless you take a ridiculous amount of time trying to find the right name. I'm not a mother, so I wouldn't know personally much about this, but I don't think even a mother's intuition can go this far.

I have a few ideas on why this might be. The first is that it's all our perception. We notice that two people have the same name, so we naturally look for ways they are similar instead of looking at them individually. If they share a characteristic, you mentally associate it with their name and automatically look for that characteristic in other people with that name. 

Another explanation might be the personalities of the parents. Those who enjoy names like "Hannah" would have a different personality than those who enjoy names like "Hunter" or "Hannibal". If a girl's parents are more partial to a dainty, light, girly name, they would probably act in a way that would naturally shape her to be dainty and girlish. Of course, this is just a basic stereotype, so it won't fit everyone.

Similarly, the culture of the family may affect the personalities of their children. Names from a particular religion may be more prevalent in people who practice that religion, so the lifestyle of the family may be affected similarly. For example, if several Christian families name their child after the same Biblical figure, the name twins may be more similar because they are both growing up in a Christian household. Families from a certain geographic region may favor similar names, and you'll end up with name twins in families that have similar traditions and customs.

This may sound a little out there, but there may also be an element from the name itself. Something in the name may cause a version of convergent evolution. (science lesson!) In nature, animals with different evolutionary histories can form similar features based on similar conditions. A great example of this is how sharks and dolphins are genetically more different than you would suppose by their appearances, but because they both live in the same environment, they have formed similar features. If two people with the same name are treated similarly by culture because of their names, then even if they live in completely different households, they may grow more like each other by adapting similarly. This may not cause large scale similarities in groups of name twins, but it may account for similarities in personalities in people who are bullied or treated unfairly because of their names.

I'm not a psychologist or social scientist. I have no experience that you don't in classifying why people are the way they are. Again, I'm also stereotyping, which means that what I say definitely does not fit everyone in the categories that I stereotype. There is no guarantee that I am right. You can be whatever and whomever you want to be, regardless of your name and name twins.

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