The news is not good for the Brunos, Igors, Barneys, Hildas and Gertrudes of the world.
Before a stranger even lays eyes on them, he has concluded that they are not as cool as the James, Johns, Jacquelines and Catherines running around, according to the latest research of psychology professor Albert Mehrabian of the University of California, Los Angeles.Face it. When it comes to image, names are important. When was the last time an episode of "thirtysomething" featured a character named Manfred? And did your mother ever say, "Why can't you be more like Melvin?" Or "Why can't you act like Prunella? She's such a warm and cheerful girl."
Mehrabian has spent seven years sorting out which names are hip and which aren't. He's written "The Name Game: The Decision that Lasts a Lifetime (National Press Books, $9.95)," a book that ranks 1,800 names.
For each of the 1,800, Mehrabian asked at least 20 people to say how strongly they associated the name with success, morality, health, warmth, cheerfulness and masculinity or femininity.
Some rankings were somewhat predictable. Those surveyed figured that good, solid names belonged to good solid people. So, James, Robert and John scored well in all desirable qualities, Mehrabian said.
Bruno came out as a masculine dolt. Barney, no doubt living with the image of Mr. Rubble, wasn't seen as heading for any "Who's Who" either. Igor, known best as Dr. Frankenstein's assistant, scored no better than Barney.
Among women, Prudence won the highest marks for morality. Constance, Grace and Abigail, the name of a noted advice columnist, held their own, too.