Elaine Pedreira Rabinovich of Sao Paulo University spearheaded a social psychology study in an attempt to delve deeper into the earlier research conducted in the 1940’s by Dr. Eagleson. Her hypothesis suggested that the socioeconomic group of a child’s parent would affect the name chosen for that child (Rabinovich, 1993). The theory is an interesting one, yet it is faulty. The argument presented is inductive, albeit a weak and uncogent inductive argument. There are several key issues with this study. The evidence presented in support of the comparative claim to socioeconomic groups and children’s names is flawed, at best.
A child’s name is not necessarily related to his or her parents’ socioeconomic group. The premises given in the article attempt to offer support for the conclusion. Unfortunately, they do not supply the cogency needed to make the argument stronger. One premise takes its’ basis of assuming that families who selected their child’s name together were representing an egalitarian system. The second premise explored the idea that only one parent naming a child was the exemplification of a hierarchical system.
These are the two main premises to the conclusion, which is the concept that the act of naming a child varies depending on the socioeconomic group of the parents (Rabinovich, 1993). The premises themselves are the victims of poor supporting evidence. The socioeconomic groups in question are split in half between high and low groups, without any middle group being represented. In addition to self-judgement statements that are used to help supply the researcher’s evidence, there are several other logical errors presented in this article.
The form of this argument is muddled. Several attempts were made to reorganize the statements in the article into any argument form. Initially, it resembled a possible enzyme; however, this was not the case. Take the following sentences, for example: “Whereas in Group A [high level socioeconomic group], both parents chose the child’s name… they chose a more neutral-sounding name. Thus, Group A parent chose names for aesthetic reasons” (Rabinovinch, 1993). This argument is difficult to reconstruct, as none of the conclusions are listed in any of the premises.
In the above example, the article implied that the result of both parents selecting a name for the child together would be for the purpose of giving their child a neutral-sounding name. However, the actual result listed was “for aesthetic reasons. ” Names that are neutral-sounding are not necessarily aesthetically pleasing. Those two phrases are not synonymous. A point not covered in class, but mentioned elsewhere in the book is the definitions of words. In this case of “aesthetic” and “neutral,” the lexical definitions of the two words do not equate.
The words are both defined primarily by the speaker. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder; likewise for defining the concept of neutrality. Anyhow, the “proof” provided for Group B is even less than that given in Group A. Group B’s (the low socioeconomic group) argument essentially states that when one parent chooses the child’s name instead of two parents imputing then that name is bound to be more imaginative by default. There was no connection between those two statements, and they were separated by virtually an entire paragraph.
The argument presented to aid the conclusion was lacking vital pieces to be strong or to even be considered an argument. There is nothing with which one can work. The author of this piece did not take care to produce quality forms. The primary issue with this study’s foundational argument is the fact that it relies heavily on an informal fallacy. This would be the fallacy of hasty generalization. The sample size of the study was limited to 100 children. All of the children lived in the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The study implies that a family’s socioeconomic group relates to the naming of a child, yet the socioeconomic groups would vary by continent, by nation, by state, by city, and even down to the streets. In addition to this, the article splits the groups by level of education, with Group A parent both having earned university degrees and netting high incomes, but Group B parents having never finished elementary school and bringing home a low income. Assuming this division effectively works in Sao Paulo, it does not represent other areas.
America, for instance, has laws against letting children drop out of school until they are at least 16 years old. Many European nations have compulsory education laws, requiring children to receive an education until they are 18. There is no way that this sample of one hundred of a city in Brazil can accurately represent the seven billion individuals on the planet and the logistics behind their parents’ decision in choosing their names. The sample size is too small. Another issue found in this article is the generalization of the statistics presented.
It is home to data that they say impact the outcome of the survey, yet it generalized the results in several instances. For example, the study made the claim that the majority of parents in the high SES group named their children after looking at them, with 10% of these families doing just that and 0% from Group B participating in this activity. Twenty-four percent of Group A parents chose names for cosmetic reasons and again 0% for Group B (Rabinovich, 1993). A quick second glance at the article immediately reminds that 10% of Group A is just five children and 24% is twelve.
There also is not clarification if there was any overlap between these two groups. Thus, the study is claiming to represent the majority of high SES groups, but it is based upon the names of seventeen children in Brazil. This study is too dependent on hasty generalizations. The study possesses several logical and technical errors. The first of these is the variation between the groups. The study divided the two groups into fifty, but there are differences that cause the groups not to parallel. The first of these is the variation on the split of the children in the study.
A group made an even half between boys and girls with 25 each; meanwhile, Group B was slightly incongruent to this method. There were 28 boys and 22 girls. This may not seem like a massive issue, but when the sample size is as small as it is and makes the level of claim that it does, it is a big deal. This causes the scale to tip when statistics are being drawn concerning boys’ names. Another issue is the age variation between the studies. The children in Group A ranged from 1 to 7 years old, and the children in Group B varied drastically less with participants being 1 month to 1 year old (Rabinovoch, 1993).
This ever so slightly dates the information given by Group A. If there were multiple siblings between the child in the survey and the time of the survey, information on the why the parents chose a name could have been confused or clouded with time. Perhaps the greatest problem with this study is the lack of expounding upon definitions of words. The study concluded that parents who chose their child’s name together (those from Group A) reflect an egalitarian system, and those families where only one parent chose the child’s name (Group B) were part of a hierarchical system.
The question behind this is what exactly determines a family is egalitarian or hierarchical? Could any of the parents been single parents who selected the name alone? Absolutely. Definitions played a further role when the terms “aesthetic” and “neutral-sounding” are called into question. What constitutes a name as being “short,” “nice,” or “easy”? Is Robert a neutral sounding name, chosen because it can be shortened to Bob? Perhaps it is imaginative, as the parents did not know anyone with that name. Which group would Robert then fit into?
Is his name neutral-sounding or imaginative? Opinion based definitions do not act as support for a study. In addition to this, the question of variation between sibling names was not considered. Sometimes, parents choose names simply because they like them, and if they are connected to a family member or are unique, then so be it. Racial and cultural names were also not included in this study. A common name in Brazil would not be the same in Sweden. These logical and technical errors readily compile.
The argument presented by Rabinovich is a weak, uncongent inductive argument. The basis of evidence for this argument is found in hasty generalizations and value claims. Sample size and lack of varying demographics cause several problems for this study. Rabinovich’s conclusion suggested that the process of naming children is related to the socioeconomic group of the parents and to the dynamics of that family. The purpose of this study was to try to determine if a child’s name could reveal their family’s social standing in their culture.
It did not succeed. The statistics presented were either too close to represent any great difference (20% and 30%) or irrationally determined (i. e. , value claims on aesthetic or imaginative names). The implication of this is that there is not enough actual evidence to make this study useful for any other purpose, barring expanding upon the ideas on a broader scale. It would be interesting to see this study taken on globally instead of being restricted to a single study. The research needed to be developed further before any claims were made.