If your child is named Jacob or Emily, you probably live on the East Coast. But if you named your kid Aspen or Storm, you most likely live in the West--or should we say the Wild West?
Researchers from the University of Michigan have concluded that parents who live in the old frontier states--from Arizona to Alaska--are more likely to give their children unusual and more distinctive names, while parents who live in the original 13 colonies are more apt to choose traditional or currently popular names.
For example, Al and Tipper Gore, solid East Coasters who were reared in Washington, D.C. and Arlington, Virginia respectively, named their four children Karenna, Kristin, Sarah and Albert.
Meanwhile, the five children of Sarah and Todd Palin of Wasilla, Alaska are named Track, Willow, Trig, Bristol and Piper.
"These factors select for people who are high in individualism and foster and reward individualistic values, such as uniqueness and self-reliance," study leader Michael Varnum told LiveScience of the unusual names popular in the frontier states. "This leads to regional cultures which perpetuate these values, which in turn shape behavioral practices, such as baby naming. Even though other people who came later may not have been so individualistic, that culture was set up. That legacy of the frontier is going to live on, and that shows up in baby names."
The top 16 weird and wacky boys' names:
The top 14 weird and wacky girls' names:
The study findings were published in the journal Psychological Science.
--From the Editors at Netscape