A Nasturtium by Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet

Thu Aug 12 15:31:50 UTC 2004

        Amy Perfors, a linguistics graduate student at MIT, has received press coverage recently for her research finding that people take names into account in deciding on personal attractiveness.  Unlike the example in my subject line, where "nasturtium" sounds less attractive than "rose" because it sounds nasty (I don't know what a nasturtium smells like, but they look pretty, see http://www3.coara.or.jp/~j_web/wp/nature/spring/nasturtium-1024.jpg), Ms. Perfors has concluded that male names with back vowels, like "Paul," are less attractive than male names with front vowels, like "Matt" and "Mike."  (Clearly, this explains why my brother, Bill, always saw more action than I did.)  Her web page, with links to some news reports and a one-page report of the research itself, is at http://www.mit.edu/~perfors/.

John Baker

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