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The QWERTY effect does not extend to birth names

Thogmartin, W.E., 2013, The QWERTY effect does not extend to birth names. Names: A Journal of Onomastics, v 61, p 47–52.


The QWERTY effect suggests a consequence to word meaning deriving from the placement of letters on a QWERTY keyboard. Jasmin and Casasanto (2012) reported that words formed primarily of letters from the left side of the keyboard were more aversive in nature, whereas those on the right side were more attractive (right-side advantage, RSA); they concluded that those individuals branding new products could ensure a positive affect by attending to the balance of letters. I tested this hypothesis on arguably the most important branding decision an individual can make, the naming of a baby, by associating name popularity against RSA. Names and their rank among the top 1000 names reported to the Social Security Administration were gathered for each decadal interval between 1880 and 2010 (= 28,000 names). I found no evidence for the QWERTY effect in child names (βRSA = 0.007; 95% CI = [–0.014, 0.027]). Instead, gender-specific patterns in name popularity were related to length of name (βName Length = 0.079 [0.058, 0.099]). Parents should not be concerned that positive affect is dictated by the QWERTY effect.


birth name, cumulative link model, name length, ordinal regression, right-side advantage, Social Security

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