Indeed, matronyms are very rare in Western culture. "Everyone probably knows a guy who is a 'junior,' given the exact same name as his father, and many know someone who is 'such-and-such the third,' having the same name as both his father and his grandfather," Ryan says. "But when was the last time you met a woman who had the same name as her mother, much less the same first and middle names as her mother, like Sally Anne Jones, Jr.?" Some famous female juniors include former First Lady Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, Jr., Carolina Herrara, Jr. (daughter of the clothing designer), and Rory (aka Lorelai) from the TV show Gilmore Girls.
In the new analysis, Elizabeth was the only female name that showed up frequently across generations as a possible matronym. "Perhaps one of the reasons for this name's greater intergenerational use is that there are so many nicknames based on the name Elizabeth: Liz, Lizzy, Beth, Eliza, Lisa, Betty, etc.," Ryan says. "So, a girl named Elizabeth could be given her mother's name and most people might not even realize it."
Ryan says that this naming trend is one of the most pronounced gender differences we still see in society. "Women who once could only strive to work as nurses, teachers, or librarians can now aspire to be astronauts, brain surgeons, or senators," he says. "But don't expect anyone to give a girl her mother's name."
"The greater use of patronyms in these cultures reflects and transmits the value of masculinity and the male name," Ryan says. "A person's name, after all, is what people call that person, but it also represents that person's reputation how he or she is known in a community and all of the respect, status, or infamy that goes along with that reputation."
Ryan hopes that the current work shows how cultural values and events shape important personal decisions, such
|Contact: Lisa M.P. Munoz|
Society for Personality and Social Psychology