Adolescents with Unpopular Names More Prone to Committing Crime

A new study in the journal Social Science Quarterly examined the relationship between first name popularity in adolescents and tendency to commit crime. Results show that, regardless of race, juveniles with unpopular names are more likely to engage in criminal activity.

David E. Kalist and Daniel Y. Lee of Shippensburg University analyzed state data by comparing the first names of male juvenile delinquents to the first names of male juveniles in the population.

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.

The least popular names were associated with juvenile delinquency among both blacks and whites. While the names are likely not the cause of crime, 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.

Also, adolescents with unpopular names may be more prone to crime because they are treated differently by their peers, making it more difficult for them to form relationships. Juveniles with unpopular names may also act out because they consciously or unconsciously dislike their names.

“First name characteristics may be an important factor to help identify individuals at high risk of committing or recommitting crime, leading to more effective and targeted intervention programs,” the authors conclude.

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18 thoughts on “Adolescents with Unpopular Names More Prone to Committing Crime”

  1. Considering I’m a practicing MD and MY first name happens to be Vaudeville.

    And it’s Jaquavious, no D. One of my surgeons is named Jaquavis, the origin of the name. I’ve got two lawyers on speed-dial named Linebacker and Tumultuous. These are all first names, by the way.

  2. How comfortable are you saying “this is my lawyer Jadquavius Williams” or “My doctor is great, her name is Shaniqua Jones”?

  3. I’ve heard of Adan, even Thor, but Brick? Really? Oh MAN!
    You know, the cable guy was over the other day and his work order had been screwed up by the dispatcher, whose name was “Taniqua.” And he was bitching about it, and I go, “Well hell, with a name like ‘Taniqua’ what do you expect?” And we were kind of laughing about that – hell, it was funny.
    But I have a name that’s unusual enough that I’ve never met another that has it, and I must say it’s a pain in the arse. My real name is Charlene, but my brother couldn’t pronounce that and his 18-month-old wisdom told him to just change it. However, my parent’s 20-something wisdom thought that was cute as hell, so I am forever with a strange name.
    Can I blame that on my apparent failure to thrive, socially unacceptable ideas, and general inability to fit into society? I’m looking for something, as my childhood was far too cool to be the culprit.
    Let me know, wouldja?

  4. I’ve yet to met a person that was born with my name.
    Even then, I haven’t met a person that has changed their name to my name either.

    Only other person I know of is my grandmother, but I never met her.
    And her name had one less ‘S’ than mine.

    BECAUSE MY NAME IS SPECIAL AND ODD (yettotallybeautiful.bejealous)
    When I’m in court, I’ll tell them about these two men, David and Daniel,
    who told me that people with unique names are more likely to commit a crime.
    So. It’s not my fault. It’s /their/ fault for getting bad thoughts in my head. :c
    Punish them, judge. Punish them good.

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