What's in a Name? A Baby-Name Expert Weighs In on Princess Charlotte

This morning, Kensington Palace announced the name of the new royal baby: Princess Charlotte. So, we asked Albert Mehrabian, PhD, a professor emeritus of psychology at UCLA — and the author of The Name Game: The Decision That Lasts a Lifetime and Baby Name Report Card: Beneficial and Harmful Baby Names — what his own research reveals about the name Charlotte.

Getty | Anwar Hussein

Mehrabian, via email, told us the name we're given at birth can have a great impact on the course of our lives. "It is very important, because it is part of the impression profile a person presents to the general public. In fact, a name suggests qualities about a person even when they are not present," he said. "Here is another way to answer your question: imagine if you had to write your articles under the name Candy vs. the name Elizabeth." Point taken.

In his research on names, Mehrabian asked his subjects to imagine they were about to meet someone for the very first time. All they were told about this person was his or her name and gender. Then, Mehrabian asked them to rate his or her qualities on a scale from 1 to 100. Below are his findings for the name Charlotte.

  • 97 for ethical-caring (e.g., trustworthy, loyal, kind, generous, respectful)
  • 56 for popular-fun (e.g., playful, funny, cheerful, outgoing, athletic, good-looking)
  • 59 for successful (e.g., ambitious, intelligent, confident, creative)
  • 8 for masculinity-femininity (meaning it is a very feminine name)
  • 84 for overall name attractiveness: This score summarizes the overall positive-negative impression conveyed by a person's name alone (i.e., the name judged independently of the individual's other characteristics).

All in all, Dr. Mehrabian told us he thinks the princess's name a fitting one for both her station and era. "Charlotte is a pretty suitable name for royalty because it is a 'serious' name conveying weight, substance, and morality. In addition, at least for the last few decades, it is not an overused name. So, that would be another plus." But that may not last for long. Now that Charlotte has the royal stamp of approval, we predict it's set for a resurgence in popularity in maternity wards around the world.