Report claims name makes a difference in committing crimes

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A new report detailed in the journal Social Science Quarterly shows that boys in the United States with common names like Michael and David are less likely to commit crimes than those named Ernest or Alec.

David E. Kalist and Daniel Y. Lee of Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania compared the first names of male juvenile delinquents to the first names of male juveniles in the population.

They constructed a popularity-name index (PNI) for each name. For example, the PNI for Michael is 100, the most frequently given name during the period. The PNI for David is 50, a name given half as frequently as Michael. The PNI is approximately one for names such as Alec, Ernest, Ivan, Kareem and Malcolm.

The least popular names among both African Americans and whites were associated with juvenile delinquency.

To test this theory, Banner Graphic staff took the names of those males arrested locally over a three-month period and broke down the statistics.

Michael led the list of names for those arrested in Putnam County, followed by the name Thomas. Four names all tied for third place being Christopher, Daniel, James and Steve/Stephen.

In one day alone, three Jeremys were arrested, along with a Jason, a Steve and two Jameses.

According to a statement released by the journal's publisher, "Adolescents with unpopular names may be more prone to crime because they are treated differently by their peers, making it more difficult for them to form relationships."

This led them to conclude that those with unpopular names may also act out because they consciously or unconsciously dislike their names.

While the names are not the cause of crime, researchers argue that "they are connected to factors that increase the tendency to commit crime, such as a disadvantaged home environment, residence in a county with low socioeconomic status, and households run by one parent."

The authors concluded that the findings could help officials identify those at high risk of committing or recommitting crimes, thus they can find more effective and targeted intervention programs.

Apparently, Putnam County does match the results of this study. Here is seems the more common and popular your name is, the better chance you have of being arrested.

"We see people with all kinds of names," said a Putnam County official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "There are more people with the common name Michael, so it makes sense statistically that we might arrest more people with that name. I don't think this study can be applied in Putnam County."

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