Whether people find you “hot or not” could depend on the sound of your name, suggests a new study.

Linguist Amy Perfors of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, US, placed photos with fake names on a website called “Hot or Not”, which allows viewers to rank strangers’ photos for attractiveness.



She found that men labelled with names including “front vowels,” such as the “aaa” sound in Matt were rated as more attractive by website viewers than photos labelled with “back vowel” names, such as the “aw” sound in Paul. The opposite was true for women’s names.



While most linguists agree that there is no inherent relationship between the sound of a word and its meaning, there is some evidence to the contrary, says Perfors. Front vowels, those produced in the front of the mouth, are often perceived as smaller than back vowels, those produced in the back of the mouth.



It may seem counterintuitive that men named with the smaller-sounding front vowel are rated as more attractive. But other studies have shown that men with slightly feminine features are considered more desirable, says Perfors. “Maybe women are subconsciously looking for more sensitive or gentle men,” she says.



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