Culture and Baby-Naming in a Multicultural World: Identity and Pragmatic Motivations Predict Choices and Preferences of Baby Names Among Bicultural Individuals
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Changes in the repertoire of first names represent a cultural product of multiculturalism. As societies become increasingly diverse, choices of names can be construed and examined in the context of cultural identifications and acculturation strategies employed by bicultural individuals. This dissertation provides the first empirical investigation of baby-naming choices and preferences among bicultural individuals using a cultural psychological lens. The studies reported employ mixed-methods and build from different theoretical approaches. The quantitative studies allow for testing important predictors of baby-naming preferences and choices, whereas the qualitative data provide a richer understanding of the phenomenon. Study 1 (N = 71) provided initial evidence of how issues of cultural identity and pragmatism affected choices of baby names among a culturally diverse group of parents. Studies 2a (South Asian Canadians; N = 326) and 2b (Iranian Canadians; N = 126) examined four key predictors of baby-name preferences. Across both samples, stronger acculturation to heritage culture and motivation for ethno-cultural continuity predicted stronger preference for ethnic names. Preferences for mainstream names were predicted by both stronger acculturation to mainstream Canadian culture and greater concerns about negative consequences of ethnic names. Study 3 (N = 211) surveyed a group of primarily first-generation immigrants of an Indian background living in three English speaking countries: Canada, the United States, and the UK. This study also examined two new predictors of baby-naming choices, namely ethnic pride, and perceptions of names as markers of cultural identity. Results overall supported previous findings about the role of both identity and pragmatic motivations in baby naming choices, although the pattern of relationships varied slightly. Two exploratory mediational models illustrate possible pathways through which these identity and pragmatic concerns relate to name choices. Qualitatively, we provide additional support for how names are used as a means of signalling cultural group membership, displaying ones sense of ethnic pride, and intergenerational cultural transmission. At the same time, names are seen as pragmatic tools that can help better position the child in a mainstream cultural context. Implications of these findings are discussed and a number of potential avenues for research on culture and baby-naming are proposed.