Odd first names linked to criminality
Jennifer Harper (Contact)
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Mama, stick with Michael. But Malcolm? Maybe not.
A man's first name can predict his criminal tendencies, according to research released Wednesday by economists who compared crime statistics and a roster of more than 15,000 first names to reveal a distinct "name-crime link" among American males.
The more unpopular or uncommon the name, the greater the chance the lad will end up in jail, said David E. Kalist and Daniel Y. Lee of Shippensburg University.
"Regardless of race, juveniles with unpopular names are more likely to engage in criminal activity," the study said.
It applied succinct values to the names - Michael, for example, was rated at 100, and the least likely name to be associated with juvenile delinquency. David was in the middle at 50, with Alec, Ernest, Ivan, Malcolm and Tyrell languishing with a 1-point rating.
The researchers found that for every 10 percent increase in a name's popularity, there was a 4 percent decrease in the number of juvenile delinquents of the same name.
Social and cultural factors come into play, said Mr. Kalist, whose study was published in Social Science Quarterly, an academic journal.
"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," he said.
Yet, weird names also are common among our most well-heeled citizens. Celebrities are often notorious for bestowing odd monikers on their offspring. In recent years, magician Penn Jillette named his sons Moxie Crimefighter and Zolten, for example, while singer Gwen Stefani called her second baby boy Zuma Nesta Rock.