Most popular name for babies? An unusual one
2008: WHAT'S IN A NAME?
The Social Security Administration tracks the top 1,000 baby names for each year. You can see the top 50 most popular names of 2008 in the interactive graphic above, but here are some examples from the middle and bottom of the list:
Rank Boys Girls
500 Kale Samara
501 Jermaine Skye
502 Leon Kali
503 Rodney America
504 Kristian Lexie
996 Kolten Carleigh
997 Damari Iyana
998 Hugh Kenley
999 Jensen Sloane
1000 Yurem Elianna
The large-scale study of trends in baby-naming by psychologists Jean Twenge and W. Keith Campbell is based on an analysis of names on applications for Social Security numbers of 325 million Americans born between 1880 and 2007.
Twenge, an associate professor at San Diego State University, will present the results Saturday at a conference of the Association for Psychological Science in San Francisco. Campbell is at the University of Georgia-Athens.
Twenge says that the trend of giving children less common names started after World War II and that the most dramatic decline in the more common names occurred during the 1990s, followed by this decade.
People today are more interested in standing out rather than fitting in, she says: "Being unique is now popular."
In 1955, 32% of boys had one of the year's 10 most popular names, but by 2007, just 9% had names on that list. For girls, 22% had a top-10 name in 1955 vs. 8% in 2007, the study found.
The study accounted for naming trends as the result of immigration, race and ethnicity, and the same pattern held true, Twenge says.
"People wanted to try to fit in the melting pot, and now people want to embrace their diverse heritage, diverse viewpoint and diverse look," says Pamela Redmond Satran, co-author of 10 books on baby names.
Another study, published online this month in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found the same move toward uniqueness when it looked at 8,000 U.S. names between 1900 and 2004 and 2,570 names during the same period in France.
"If names get too popular, people may not want them anymore," says co-author Jonah Berger, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Twenge, co-author with Campbell of the new book The Narcissism Epidemic, suggests there is a connection between an increase in narcissism in society and wanting baby names that are less common.