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Babies named for fathers but not mothers reflect US cultural ideologies
Date:11/7/2013

November 7, 2013 - From Cal Ripkin, Jr., to MLK to Robert Downey, Jr., finding men named after their fathers is easy. Children named after men in the family with so-called patronyms are common around the world. But what about matronymns names for a mother or grandmother? New research shows that matronymns are rare and that family naming trends follow a regional pattern in the United States: People in states with a relatively high emphasis on honor are more likely to use patronyms, especially in the face of a terrorist threat.

"Studying naming trends can be a subtle means of peering into a society's beliefs and values without ever having to ask people to report directly about their beliefs and values," says Ryan Brown of the University of Oklahoma. Brown is not an expert in baby names but rather studies cultural values and trends. He became interested in the connection between names and cultural values when his collaborator, Mauricio Carvallo, was researching names for his new baby girl. They started to wonder whether values associated with honor and reputation affected whether people named their children after men or women in the family.

Social scientists define "cultures of honor" as places where the defense of reputation plays an unusually important role in social life. "For men in a typical honor culture, the kind of reputation that is highly prized is a reputation for toughness and bravery," Ryan says. "For women in a typical honor culture, the most valued reputation is a reputation for loyalty and sexual purity." Two decades of research has shown that people in the Southern and Western regions of the United States tend to embrace honor cultures more than in the North.

To see how those values translate into children's names, Ryan and colleagues designed several studies to look at naming trends. The studies included surveying people about their beliefs and t
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Contact: Lisa M.P. Munoz
spsp.publicaffairs@gmail.com
703-951-3195
Society for Personality and Social Psychology
Source:Eurekalert

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