What Names Make You Swipe Right? They're Not What You Might Think.

Nov 12th 2015

You're drawn to some names and turned off by others. I know that about you, because you're human. All of us react to people's names, consciously or unconsciously. Now, a dating app has tried to tally our reactions in the form of "right swipes."

If you've never browsed for beaux on your phone, here's what you need to know about right swipes. In the age of the popular Tinder service, mobile matchmaking has been boiled down to bare bones ingredients. Input is just a name and photo, and response a single finger swipe: to the right for a "thumbs up," left for "no thanks." Now a Tinder competitor, The Grade, has broken down swiping rates by name.

Here are their most right-swiped names:

1   Brianna   Brett
2   Erika   Tyler
3   Lexi   Corey
4   Brooke   Andy
5   Vanessa   Noah
6   April   Shane
7   Natalie   Jeffrey
8   Jenna   Rob
9   Molly   Frank
10   Katie   Jeff
11   Laura   Zack
12   Rebecca             Brandon


As a Laura, I was surprised to see my own name on the list. Not because it's unattractive – all Lauras are naturally irresistible, of course – but because the typical Laura was born more than 40 years ago. Along with names like Jeffrey, Rebecca and Frank, it's a sign that The Grade's list isn't just signaling youth.

Instead, the names seem to follow two distinct style threads. The first, not surprisingly, is sexiness. Double letters abound, a feature common in names perceived as sexy. Brianna and Vanessa are lacy and sinuous, Jenna is associated with a prominent porn star, and Lexi just plain rhymes with sexy.

But the second style that leaps out is niceness. Short, friendly names and especially nicknames are generating great responses from would-be dates. These are the approachable names that draw people in, as salespeople and politicians know. In particular, the names Katie, Molly, Laura and Andy were all top suggestions when I asked users for the most likeable names they could think of.

In other words, even in a photo-dominated swipe-hookup interface, we're drawn to people who seem friendly, approachable and nice; people who seem like they'd smile and like us back. That's an encouraging sign for the app dating world. It suggests that plenty of users are thinking of those photos as real people, and possibly hoping to make real connections. It's also a good reminder to parents to take friendliness seriously.

Friendliness is a powerful social force that's undervalued in the baby naming process. As we get caught up in the race toward creativity and distinctiveness, the friendliest names remain simple, informal and familiar. That may not be a recipe for high fashion, but it's a great way to make a first impression.


November 14, 2015 12:11 AM

Re friendliness as undervalued: yup, true. Friendliness just isn't a "glamorous" trait and doesn't immediately set someone apart. Friendliness and other traits like that (e.g., kindness) are appreciated when they're there, but they're not traits that are perceived to grant uniqueness and coolness in some way--intelligence, strength, etc.

November 15, 2015 9:50 AM

I wonder if there is a way to measure swipes of non-standard spellings, given how popular alternate spellings are for today's namers.