Can people guess a person’s name based on their looks? A new study suggests that we can.

CC0 Public Domain
New reserarch suggest that people are better than chance at correctly matching people’s names to their faces.

The study was conducted at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and published in the Journal of Personality and Psychology. When the study participants had to guess other people’s names, it seemed like they guessed correctly more often than chance.

The study consisted of several different experiments, in which a total of 400 people participated. They were shown photographs of faces and were then asked to select one name from five possible options.

People managed to guess the correct name slightly more often than chance would suggest. Selecting one of four possible names, observers chose the correct name 38% of the time — significantly above the 25% chance level of a random guess. Their guesses were on average five to 15 percent greater chance of guessing the correct name.

There are certainly several factors possibly influencing the results, but the researchers say they corrected for ethnicity, age, and socioeconomic status.

The researchers believe that people may subconsciously adjust their appearance to conform to their name and that there are cultural norms about how a person with a specific name should look.

Previous studies have actually shown that people named Bob more often are expected to have a rounder face than people named Tim.

Some parts of our looks are, of course, more difficult than others to change throughout our lives, but the hair and hairstyle may play a role.

Yonat Swebner et al. We look like our names: The Manifestation of Name Stereotypes in facial appearence. American Psychological Association, 2017. DOI: 10.1037 / pspa0000076