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In a world where people are disadvantaged by first impressions and implicit bias, names factor a lot into a person’s successes in life. Whether it be first names, last names, the number of middle initials, the gender and racial implications of a person’s name, and societal standards surrounding names and naming systems, there are multiple ways names shape a person’s identity. Thus, it is important to ask how personal names shape the way people are seen as individuals in the United States and contribute to their identity. Names are a trait that people are born with, usually determined before anything is known about that person. Research for this paper involved exploring articles about the various aspects of names, as well as investigating the psychosocial effects they have on people. A thorough understanding of the impact of names was found. It was expected that there would likely be implications surrounding only race and gender signaling names, yet it was discovered that there are much more biases that names can signal based on the contents of that person’s name. From a person’s educational worth to an association with lesser valued societal qualities, names allow people to form assumptions and draw conclusions without actively trying to. Immigrants in the United States have even faced less adversity upon anglicizing their name, simply because it allows them to more easily blend in and assimilate. As a result, bringing together this research allows a more holistic understanding of implicit bias. Broadly, this can further be applied to explaining why certain people have more privilege than others. Just like how teachers can treat certain individuals differently based on their name, affecting how that individual receives education, societal stereotypes can similarly impose different attitudes due to how names are perceived.

Publication Date


Subject Major(s)

Sociology, Psychology


name, sociology, psychology, society, future, discrimination, race, gender, privilege


Psychology | Social Psychology | Sociology

Current Academic Year


Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Faye O. Prichard


© The Author(s)

Recommended Citation

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How Personal Names Shape the Way Society Sees People as Individuals in the United States.