A survey of 3,000 people found that we closely connect attributes to names.
The conference heard yesterday that 18 women's names were rated for different characteristics, such as attractiveness, honesty, strong-minded- ness, happiness and intelligence. Asked to choose characteristics of a name to be used as a television character, the names least associated with positive attributes were Sharon, Tracey and Doris, whereas those seen as the most attractive were "upper class" names: Elizabeth, Francesca and Penelope.
Poor Doris scored least on the grounds of cleverness, attractiveness and class. She was also thought to be the worst gossip. Francesca, in comparison, was seen as the most sexy, attractive and feminine. We also think that Helgas are strong-minded, Lucys are happy and Traceys are weak- minded.
Dr Mallory Wober, the author of the study, said soap operas and sitcoms reinforced connotations with names.
"Another reason could be the names which appear in books," he added, "although it might just be experience. At school in our earliest days the kind of people we met called Francesca and Penelope were better off, arrived at school in a Land Rover and were better equipped to deal with life."
As for his own name, Dr Wober confessed: "Well, Mallory used to be the name of a hero who climbed Everest. Now it's the name of the heroine in the controversial film Natural Born Killers." At least it's not Doris.Reuse content