‘Kevinism’, bad first names and ‘name-based interpersonal neglect’

Australian Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd

Kevin Rudd, innocent victim of 'Kevinism'

When it comes to Germany, Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd’s name precedes him – and not in a good way.

He’s a victim of ‘Kevinism’, a term coined by German-speaking media to describe discrimination against people with ‘culturally devalued’ (read: bad, or bogan) names in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

(Chantal is another example of a ‘Kevinism’ name.)

Kevinism, and the broader effects a bad first name can have for people, are the subjects of a fascinating new paper* by German and US academics.

The key findings, based on surveys of some 12,000 participants:

  • Negative (read: bad) first names evoke negative interpersonal relations, which in turn influence life outcomes for the worse.
  • These life outcomes: Lower self-esteem, more smoking and less education.
  • Singles using an online dating site would rather stay single than commence a relationship with someone who had an undesirable name

There is a little bit of a ‘but’ (of course): the study was conducted on German (and obviously German-speaking) participants.

But still, the premise remains: like pets at Christmas, giving someone a bad name lasts a lifetime.

*On a purely selfish note, an extensive bibliography means lots  of other interesting name-based research to come. Good times!


Great name archive, 16-22 January 2012


Bismack Biyombo

Lene Sommer, Danish sailor

Willy van der Wiel, Dutch darts player

Bismack Biyombo, Congolese basketballer and language learner

Jerricho Cotchery, NFL wide receiver and six-fingered baby

Missy Peregrym, Canadian actress and early morning basketballer

Uwe Blab, former NBA player and father of Christopher

Dewayne Dedmon, US college basketballer and 7-foot-tall Jehovah’s Witness

Jessamen Dunker, US college footballer and weight room acclimator

Orly Taitz, US lawyer and leading figure in the ‘birther’ movement

John deJongh Jr, US Virgin Islands Governor and ice gallery welcomer

Wubbo Ockels, Dutch physicist and former astronaut

Jazzmar Ferguson, US basketballer and dishonest, lazy and unfair profile recipient

Yannick Sagbo-Latte, French-born Ivorian football player of Beninese descent

Chic Wolk, US Air Force veteran and Los Angeles parking lot mogul

Brooks Wackerman, Bad Religion drummer and sugar adder

Great name archive, 9-15 January 2012


Levi Lavallee

Na’il Diggs, NFL footballer and signature inscriber

Evans Clinchy, Sports Illustrated reporter and Scrabbler

Shy Ely, US basketballer and next step-taker

Angel Rangel, Spanish footballer and nervous watcher

Chava Pressburger, artist and diary editor

Reggie Ragland, US football player and Disney Channel-watcher

Levi LaVallee, US snowmobilist & resident of world’s turtle racing capital, Longville MN

Shay Shine, US college basketball and accomplished dunker

Othniel St. Ulme, US school psychologist and 3-foot high wrestling trophy owner

Grand Junior Charlie Poiri, Cook Islands sailor

Demba Ba, French/Senegalese footballer and first blood-drawer

Undrey Wash, NFL referee and ball-feeler

Chip Bumpus, CEO Bumpus Trucking

Beezow Doo-Doo Zopittybop-Bop-Bop, Wisconsin resident and alleged drug-possessor

Booker Woodfox, US basketballer and good 3-point shooter

Great name archive, 22-28 December 2011

Ricky Ray Rector, executed murderer and lobotomy undergoer

Paul Zingg, University president and Ooccupy movement supporter / building unlocker

Magnum Rolle, Bahamian-born NBA player and reindeer puppet-maker

Wells Tower, author and joy-looker

Mossis Madu, NFL player and lane-weaver

Jay Leshark, Phuket DJ and 3-legged walk world record attempter

Kyle Fogg, University of Arizona basketballer and 40,000 practice shot-taker

Austan Goolsbee, US economist and charity lunch attender

Bram Peper, former Rotterdam Mayor and Dutch Government Minister

Shahesta Shaitly, Guardian commissioning editor and golden envelope name-ee profiler

Quincy Acy, Baylor University basketballer and accomplished dunker

Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice President and free public data slurper advocate