8 psychological effects of changing your name


1. Feeling empowered 

Name changes can empower individuals by providing a sense of authenticity and belonging, as seen in examples like Muhammad Ali and Cat Stevens, and even in smaller instances such as when students were given Chinese names in class.

2. Feeling dissociated 

Name changes, whether voluntary or forced, can lead to a disempowered and disconnected sense of identity, as seen in historical examples and personal experiences of bullying and insecurity.

3. A feeling of hiding who you are

Name changes can result in a conflicted sense of identity, as individuals may feel less genuine or inclined to hide their true selves, especially in contexts of cultural assimilation or prejudice.

4. A sense of greater belonging 

New names, whether through nicknames or complete changes, can foster a greater sense of belonging by signaling familiarity, recognition, and acceptance, as they provide a shorthand way to refer to individuals and align with societal norms or popular culture.

5. A sense of dislocation

Changing one's name can evoke a sense of not belonging and dislocation, as it raises questions about personal identity and the potential break from family, culture, faith, or country, leading to confusion and a search for one's true self, particularly when names are used to dissociate from social groups or adopt different roles in life.

6. Being closer to your roots 

Changing one's name can evoke a sense of connection to roots and identity, as seen in religious conversions, cultural associations, or self-promoted nicknames, offering a feeling of empowerment and a reflection of desired personas, as exemplified by personal experiences and the country song "David Ashley Parker From Powder Springs."

7. Feeling closer to nature

Changing one's name to reflect nature can foster a deeper connection to the environment, promoting a sense of revitalization, authenticity, and environmental consciousness, as the resurgence of nature-inspired names in recent studies suggests.

8. Grappling with your true identity 

Name changes can bridge identities, merging complexities and forming new psychological effects, exemplified by multicultural individuals like Japanese Brazilians with hybrid names, illustrating the diverse motivations and outcomes of name changes.

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