Thursday, January 29, 2009

Are boys with unpopular names more likely to break the law?

LiveScience reports:

Boys in the United States with common names like Michael and David are less likely to commit crimes than those named Ernest or Ivan.

David E. Kalist and Daniel Y. Lee of Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania compared the first names of male juvenile delinquents to the first names of male juveniles in the population. The researchers constructed a popularity-name index (PNI) for each name. For example, the PNI for Michael is 100, the most frequently given name during the period. The PNI for David is 50, a name given half as frequently as Michael. The PNI is approximately 1 for names such as Alec, Ernest, Ivan, Kareem, and Malcolm.

Results show that, regardless of race, juveniles with unpopular names are more likely to engage in criminal activity. The least popular names were associated with juvenile delinquency among both blacks and whites.

The findings, announced today, are detailed in the journal Social Science Quarterly.

While the names are likely not the cause of crime, the researchers argue that "they are connected to factors that increase the tendency to commit crime, such as a disadvantaged home environment, residence in a county with low socioeconomic status, and households run by one parent."

I once knew a caseworker who had two kids named Rotunda and Vagina on her caseload. I often wonder how those kids turned out.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Men with the middle name "Wayne" are more likely to break the law.

9:27 AM, January 29, 2009  
Blogger Jason said...

"Wayne" and "Lee" are your stereotypical killer names. Even Aileen Wuornos went by "Lee". It's probably just because there's so many of us, but it's still fun to note.

9:57 AM, January 29, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

I looked at the names of the murder victims locally for 2008 and came up with this, total number of victims was 236 BTW:

8 Michaels were murdered, 5 Tyrones, 4 Kenneths, 4 Anthonys, 3 Edwards, 3 Tavons, 2 Leroys, 2 Charles, 2 Troys, 2 Dontes, 2 Williams and 2 Zachs.

10:02 AM, January 29, 2009  
Blogger Helen said...


Interesting that so many Michaels were murdered. I guess it's a popular name.

10:03 AM, January 29, 2009  
Blogger TMink said...

Odd names may indicate less socialized parent(s.) Two of the lowest functioning families I have worked with recently brought their children Syxx and Sevyn to see me. They came once.


10:55 AM, January 29, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

You just know they'll have a challenge with Aihte. ;)

11:00 AM, January 29, 2009  
Blogger Don Surber said...

I'm showing this to my sons.
Michael and David.

11:08 AM, January 29, 2009  
Blogger Mr. Krishan said...

Okay, for the last time.

It's not the name. It's the influence of parents who give their children odd, rare, or stupid names. Bad parents turn out bad kids.

Parents who are closer to the norm give more normal names to their kids.

End of mystery.

11:17 AM, January 29, 2009  
Blogger I R A Darth Aggie said...

recently brought their children Syxx and Sevyn to see me

They didn't happen to be Cylons by chance, did they?

11:42 AM, January 29, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...


11:47 AM, January 29, 2009  
Blogger Danny said...

The local newspaper in once reported that a certain Mr Robutussin Jones had been convicted of a series of home invasions.

11:52 AM, January 29, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

Interesting. When I read of this type of observation, my first thought is that the data should be broken down into categories by race and economic status.

Young black kids with no fathers tend to behave in a much different manner than white kids from upper middle class, for example.

In other words, the behavioral issues likely are caused by the same things that cause the bizarre names.

It has been noted that kids with bigger feet do better in Algebra. Not because their feet assist them, but because they tend to be older.

11:55 AM, January 29, 2009  
Blogger DADvocate said...

When I was a juvenile probation officer, I had a boy on my caseload who's middle name was Grossnicholas. Didn't have a chance, but last I heard he was doing OK.

My Dad once came across a guy named Useless. His parents were going for Ulysses but were functionally illiterate.

"Vagina" I hope the kid was a female although that's still the worst.

12:29 PM, January 29, 2009  
Blogger Bob said...

Probably all of those Michaels were named after Michael Jordan. They'd be in the right age group to have been born when Jordan was a superstar.

12:51 PM, January 29, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...


Your sentence would be more true if it read:

"Kids who are poor with no fathers tend to behave in a much different manner than kids with fathers and are upper middle class, for example."

12:53 PM, January 29, 2009  
Blogger Peregrine John said...

I often wonder how those kids turned out.

The word "patricide" comes to mind.

1:20 PM, January 29, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

Or "uselyssicide."

1:22 PM, January 29, 2009  
Blogger J. Bowen said...

One of my former coworkers in the Navy went to basic training with a guy named Mars Millennium Falcon Starcruiser.

4:30 PM, January 29, 2009  
Blogger John Doiron said...

Ivan The Terrible.


5:02 PM, January 29, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really liked Frank Zappa's humor on many of his records.

But to name your son Dweezil and your daughter Moon Unit, well, to each his own I guess.

6:36 PM, January 29, 2009  
Blogger Bob Sorensen said...

One of the movers we hired was named Xanadu. At least he was working.

A name almost as bad as naming a boy "Sue" is Marion. Marion Morrison, named after his grandfather. Not a criminal. Most of the world is glad that it was changed to John Wayne.

7:30 PM, January 29, 2009  
Blogger Anna said...

I have a friend with the middle name of Nickle. His p.w.t. mother was going for Nicholas.

He's a productive member of society, though he does sometimes bear the mindset of his childhood, most characteristically in not saving money and buying too many video games, DVDs, action figures, etc.

7:45 PM, January 29, 2009  
Blogger George M. Spencer said...

Read somewhere parents in NYC had two sons, named one "Crook" and the other "Angel." Or something like that.

They ended up having lives the reverse of what one might expect. The Crook was law abiding, the Angel, a thief.

10:52 PM, January 29, 2009  
Blogger Bob Sorensen said...

I have a bad feeling for the kids, Adolph Hitler Campbell and his siblings, JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell. Child abuse, giving those names.

10:56 PM, January 29, 2009  
Blogger Eric said...

An emergency room nurse told me that during one delivery, a woman heard the doctor say "Here comes the meconium," and positively fixated on the word, demanding to know how it was spelled. She later insisted on naming her child "Meconium" -- which is a medical term for newborn fecal material!

(No idea how things turned out, but I would suspect the worst in cases like that.)

1:41 AM, January 30, 2009  
Blogger dienw said...

Once knew a fellow named Mike Fink: he changed his name as soon as he was legal.

7:57 AM, January 30, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

Having a lousy name is something that is easily fixed. As an adult you can use whatever name you wish, just call motor vehicles and social security and they can make the necessary notations. In my tenure as a sales person I have noticed sales people will often make adjustments to odd or difficult-to-pronounce names so that clients will focus more on the product pitch and less on their weirdo name. If one doesn't wish to be called Xanadu, they don't have to put up with it.

8:28 AM, January 30, 2009  
Blogger TerriW said...

My mother is a prison librarian and has told me that "Roger" has been a surprisingly common prisoner name.

(At least in the prisons that she deals with.)

8:44 AM, January 30, 2009  
Blogger Daniel Fielding said...

When I was an undergrad, I met a fellow freshman, football player, from inner-city Detroit. His middle initial was M, but, he wouldnt tell us what the M stood for. Later on, we found out that his mom, a single mother, an uneducated woman, had chosen "Mucus" to be his middle name. He got his middle name changed to Michael, as soon as he could, after he got to our college town. Said he couldnt stand his "ghetto-assed name", as he used to put it. He has turned out OK, played in the NFL for a few years,and now is a high-school football coach, ad a full-time ordained Pastor in an AME Church ( a legit Pastor, not a fake Pastor like the "Rev" Jackson or the "Rev" Sharpton) in the Dallas/Ft Worth area.

12:03 PM, January 30, 2009  
Blogger Jason said...

Track, Trig, Bristol, Willow and Piper could not be reached for comment.

2:26 PM, February 01, 2009  
Blogger Kim du Toit said...

This might not be as silly as it sounds. Strange first names can lead to playground torment and alienation -- with predictable results in many cases.

Ask any boy named Sue, or Kim for that matter...

2:25 PM, February 02, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Then there was the woman in hospital, presented with twins, who had to think fast to name them. She looked around… And thus LeMongello and Orangello began their lives. Meanwhile, Cestlavie Jones, pronounced sestlavee, was a very nice person, notwithstanding.

10:35 AM, February 04, 2009  
Blogger Michael M. Butler said...

br549: As Frank said at least once, "It's the last name that's going to get them into trouble..."

1:16 AM, February 05, 2009  
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