It’s science: Your dominant hand can influence which baby name you pick

Out of 38,746 names popularized after 1990, more use letters from the right side of the keyboard than names given before 1990.

dominant hand and baby name

Try this: Write down your name and those of your parents and then your children. Then locate each letter of each name on the keyboard and note if it is located on the left or right side (use T, G and B as the middle line).

There should be more left-side letters in yours and your parents' names and more right-side letters in each of your children's names. Weird, huh? That's what some scientists thought, too, so they set out to determine why and discovered a similar pattern across five languages.

In a peer reviewed paper published by the Cognitive Science Society, a team of multinational researchers found that on average, words with more right-side letters on a keyboard were rated as more positive in meaning than words with more left-side letters. This is called The QWERTY Effect and can be applied to the relationship between the baby names you pick and the keyboard positions of the letters in those names.

The QWERTY Effect was predicted on the basis of a more general relationship between how you experience left and right "space." Without thinking about it, you tend to associate "positive" with your dominant side of space, and "negative" with your non-dominant side. This means that for right-handers, "right" is "good" and "left" is "bad," and vice-versa.

Humans are overwhelmingly right-handed (left handers only make up about 10% of the world), so the researchers predicted that languages, like English, that use the modern QWERTY keyboard show a tendency for words typed with more right-side letters to be more positive in meaning.

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Baby names given after computers were commonly used in homes show a stronger association between key position and feeling than baby names picked before this modern era.

To see if this really worked in the real world, researchers used statistics from the U.S. Social Security Administration and analyzed every year from 1960–2012 the names that had been given to at least 100 children. They correlated the time when technology showed up in the home—like Apple Macintosh and Windows home computers that became available in 1984 and 1985, and America Online that brought the internet to homes in 1991—and chose the year 1990 as the beginning of the "QWERTY era."

They found that out of 38,746 names popularized after 1990, more use letters from the right side of the keyboard than names given before 1990. Pretty neat, right?

Bottom line: Choosing a baby name is one of life's great joys. It also can be one of the hardest things to do. Thinking about different names only gets you so far but actually typing those names may help you decide between several contenders just by the way they feel—your fingers just might be the tie-breaker.

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