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The thinking behind car names

Cartoon CarMost of us spend a fair chunk of time in our cars; from the daily commute and the annual pilgrimage to see family, to popping to the corner shop when itís raining. So perhaps given the amount of time we spend in our vehicles, itís unsurprising we feel the need to name them. But why do we do it? We looked into the why, as well as the who and what!

Who names their car?

A lot us, apparently! The AA Driving School carried out a survey that discovered almost 4 in 10 (39%) of us give our car a name. Women are way more likely to name their cars, with 50% of them admitting it. Just 33% of men fessed up!
And it seems age plays a part too, with younger drivers between the ages of 18 and 24 the most likely group to have a named car, at 70% having done so. Whereas just 30% of drivers over the age of 65 admitted to doing so!
Interestingly, the AA even admitted to naming some of their vehicles! Their Special Operations Response Team uses Land Rovers and each one is named after a fish e.g. Perch, Pike and Bream.

What names?

The same survey found that around a third of drivers who have a car with a name picked it based on the carís reg plate. Other popular methods included using the carís ďpersonalityĒ to determine the name or naming it after a significant person. According to the most popular car girls names are Ruby, Lilly and Pippa and the most popular boys names are Charlie, Jack and Harry. But it seems that naming our cars after celebrities is becoming an increasingly popular option, with Lady Gaga and Prince William being a few of the favourites.

Why do we name our cars?

Naming our cars is actually a type of anthropomorphism, in which humans attribute humanlike characteristics to inanimate objects. Cars, by nature, move, and that helps them feel less like an inanimate object and more like a trusty old pal. Hence we name them.

Giving machines a name is not new human behaviour, we tend to do it with all sorts of objects and equipment, from boats to computers and even dishwashers. It sounds weird Ė but we do it! Itís a way humans can comment on the kind of job the machine does Ė quite often something we would have historically done ourselves. Naming them adds an element of trust, which in turn makes us feel safer entrusting a machine. It also reminds ourselves that we are in control Ė it is working for us within a human world. Think about how we as a society do just that to things we have no control over; itís why we give hurricanes names. It comforts us on some level.

Ultimately, we donít need to name our cars, but we do. It comes from a strange mixture of affection and control. And it makes you feel better to take Betty around the M25 then it does an anonymous Vauxhall Corsa, more power to you!

Offbeat  29/09/2015 10:16:14

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