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Life with Baby

Will Your Baby "Look" Like Her Name?

People grow into their names, according to a new study

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Choosing your baby's name may have just become a bit more complicated. A new study suggests that people's faces are affected by their name-so if you ever met a Peter who looks like a "Peter" or a Jane who looks like a "Jane," it may be based on more than just a feeling.

The new research, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, suggests people actually grow into the look that society associates with particular names. In other words, when your child grows up, someone might be able to guess her name just by looking at her.

When participants in the study received a photo and a multiple-choice list of four to five names and had to match the name to the face, they were much more likely to match the correct name than random chance would suggest. The research, which included hundreds of people in France and Israel, also found that these stereotypes varied by culture, with Israelis more likely to match Israeli names and French participants were more likely to be able to match French names. The researchers were also able to create a computer algorithm that had similar results when analyzing photos and names.

Researchers say names can come with expectations that influence a person as she grows, the same way gender or ethnicity can. "Prior research has shown there are cultural stereotypes attached to names, including how someone should look," lead study author Yonat Zwebner, a PhD candidate at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said in a release from the American Psychological Association. "For instance, people are more likely to imagine a person named Bob to have a rounder face than a person named Tim. We believe these stereotypes can, over time, affect people's facial appearance."

So now new parents have even more to consider when thinking about baby names. What's in a name? A lot, it would seem.