Kevin, Chantal among worst names for online dating
Angela Mulholland, CTVNews.ca
Published Thursday, January 5, 2012 2:42PM EST
Would you date a Kevin? How about a Mandy? If you use online dating sites in Germany and have one of these names, your chances are pretty slim of getting any dates, a new study has found.
Researchers in Germany wanted to test if a phenomenon called "Kevinism" affects behaviour on online dating sites.
What's "Kevinism," you ask?
According to the study's authors, it's a term coined by the German media to refer to discrimination against people who have "culturally devalued" first names.
And in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, "Kevin" is about as devalued a name as you can get. For women, the name "Chantal'' suffers the most from Kevinism.
The Kevinism phenomenon comes from a 2009 study that examined how teachers stereotype students based on their first names. It found that teachers believe that kids with names like Kevin, Justin, Mandy and Chantal tend to be quarrelsome troublemakers.
It seems that Kevin and Chantal are associated with low socio-economic backgrounds in German-speaking countries, and the teachers assumed kids with these names would be less intelligent and less achieving than children with positive names.
The name Kevin was so badly regarded that one teacher quipped to the rsearchers that "Kevin is not a name, but a diagnosis."
The researchers in this study decided to test the Kevinism theory using members of a German-language dating site called eDarling. (Users of the site tended to be from Austria, Germany and Switzerland.)
They sent out emails to eDarling members about possible matches with messages that contained only the names of the dates, with no pictures.
Site users tended to open more messages from potential dates with respectable-sounding names, such as Alexander and Charlotte, than those with "unfortunate" first names, from the Kevinism list. In fact, emails sent from an "Alexander" got clicked on twice as often as those from a Kevin.
The worst names for online dating?
And among the best…
Some of the names came with so much cultural baggage that the singles seemed to prefer to remain single --and continue paying for online dating -- than to consider potential partners with Kevinism names, the researchers said.
"Overall, these results provide the firmest conclusions to date for the name-based interpersonal neglect hypothesis: negative names evoke negative interpersonal reactions, which in turn influence life outcomes for the worse," they wrote .
The study is published in the latest issue of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Sciences.