Hannah = red hair?
March 25, 2010 10:46 AM   Subscribe

A disproportionate number of people named Hannah or Hanna have red hair. Confirmation bias or fact? If fact, why?

My poll of friends and family reveals that many of us have the impression that people named Hannah or Hanna usually have red hair, but nobody knows why, and Google is unforthcoming. Is this some kind of literary reference that we missed out on? Or what?
posted by HotToddy to Society & Culture (30 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Confirmation bias. I'd say a disproportionate amount of Hannah's are Eastern European Jewish, and there aren't a ton of them walking around with red hair.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:48 AM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Never heard of this. Perhaps people associate the name with henna, which is used to dye hair a reddish shade.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:52 AM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


roomthreeseventeen: "Confirmation bias. I'd say a disproportionate amount of Hannah's are Eastern European Jewish, and there aren't a ton of them walking around with red hair."

Actually, Wikipedia claims that red hair is "most commonly found amongst Ashkenazi Jewish populations".
posted by Perplexity at 10:53 AM on March 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


I was thinking of the henna connection too. When you think of "hannah" you make a quick connection to "henna" and then to "reddish orange". For the record I've never met anyone named Hannah with any color hair.
posted by amethysts at 10:54 AM on March 25, 2010


Hannah (Chana) is a very Jewish name.

Many Jews have red hair, perhaps as many as 4%.
posted by MesoFilter at 10:55 AM on March 25, 2010


My poll of friends and family reveals that many of us have the impression that people named Hannah or Hanna usually have red hair...

Emphasis mine. Your sample is way, way small and interconnected, which is almost certainly skewing your data.

I'd redirect the question thusly: Why do your friends and family have this impression? Do you just happen know a lot of Hannahs with red hair? This is a small group of friends and family, so do you all know the same Hannah that has red hair, and you've extrapolated her presence out to the world in general? Is there a person in your sample group that has latched onto this impression (for whatever reason) and has been virally infecting this small group with the impression?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:58 AM on March 25, 2010


Huh. I'm sure, if anything, it's sheer stochastic coincidence, but fwiw, most of the Hannah's I know have red hair also (though not all of them. however, the only non-redhead Hannah's I know are blond - I don't know any Hannah's with dark hair).
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:58 AM on March 25, 2010


Neither Hanna(h) I know has red hair (one brown, one blonde), but all five Maureens I know do.
posted by sallybrown at 11:00 AM on March 25, 2010


Both Hannah's that I know have red hair, now that you mention it.
posted by tryniti at 11:03 AM on March 25, 2010


Lots of Hannas here in my Midwest, white, protestant area. Not a single one (that we know) are redheads. Sorry.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:03 AM on March 25, 2010


Could be that they're thinking of Anne of Green Gables.
posted by jquinby at 11:04 AM on March 25, 2010


I'd say a disproportionate amount of Hannah's are Eastern European Jewish

In the US, Hannah has been a top ten name every single year from 1995 to 2007. I'm not sure if you're necessarily talking about kids, but I just thought I'd throw that out there. There are a TON of Hannahs running around!
posted by peep at 11:05 AM on March 25, 2010


I know several Hannahs, they are all brunettes.
posted by desuetude at 11:07 AM on March 25, 2010


Wiki says, "commonly found ...", no 'most' (maybe someone did a quick edit). A paragraph up says that Scotland the article (13%) and Ireland (10%) have the highest instances of red heads in the world.

Hanna is a more popular name there than in the US.

I know a red haired Ashkenazi Jew. And a few named Hanna too, but don't consider it a 'Jewish' name.
posted by Some1 at 11:09 AM on March 25, 2010


I have dark hair. The plural of anecdote is not data.
posted by handee at 11:22 AM on March 25, 2010


Every Hannah or Hanna I know is evangelical Christian or Jewish and none of them have red hair. I think it's just confirmation bias.
posted by pecknpah at 11:27 AM on March 25, 2010


Hannah is a common Ashkenazi name, and red hair is/was fairly common amongst Jews from the Poland/Ukraine/Pale of Settlement area. My family from that area has several redheads.

(see Bashevis, I.B.)
posted by charlesv at 12:04 PM on March 25, 2010


All the (4) Hannahs I've known have dark, straight brown hair. So probably just a coincidence. And only 1 was Jewish.
posted by rmless at 12:05 PM on March 25, 2010


People on MeFi tend to toss around 'confirmation bias' as though it invalidates the question or ends the argument (apologies if that was not the intent here) -- but even though your observations may have led to confirmation bias, that doesn't mean your observations aren't true in general. It would be interesting to see what could be mined on this from genealogical data.
posted by mattholomew at 12:09 PM on March 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


I know one adult Hannah and one child. Both are brunette.
posted by pinky at 12:26 PM on March 25, 2010


Hanna is a last name in my family, and none of them (men or women) have red hair.
posted by kimdog at 12:32 PM on March 25, 2010


Every Hannah I have ever known from elementary school until now, has been a natural blonde, or a natural brunette with bleached blonde hair.
posted by Coatlicue at 12:44 PM on March 25, 2010


Funny, I also know three redheaded Hanna(h)s. I also know a brunette Hannah, but she's the exception to known Hannahs in my life . . . Odd.
posted by Felicity Rilke at 1:02 PM on March 25, 2010


None of the people I know with red hair are named "Hannah".

None of the people I know named "Hannah" have red hair.

Confirmation bias and/or very small n.
posted by valkyryn at 1:02 PM on March 25, 2010


I know 3 Hannahs and 2 Hanas and none of them are redheads.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 2:10 PM on March 25, 2010


On review, the responses to this post are a good example of an Ask MeFi phenomenon. A question is asked, "I've noticed quite a few of X type people also have Y. I wonder if that's predominant in the greater population of X?" Which could only be proven, of course, by looking at statistical data from a large sample size of X.

If you don't get the 'confirmation bias' answer, you'll get random people tossing out a few examples that don't fit your generalization and (often) claiming that disproves your theory - which it doesn't, of course, because you didn't suggest that every single person in this group has the trait.
posted by mattholomew at 2:21 PM on March 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


I knew a Hannah with red hair, and also a brunette and blonde Hannah.
posted by biochemist at 5:01 PM on March 25, 2010


I immediately thought of my friend Hannah, who has red (well--what they call 'strawberry-blond') hair. And of a Hannah I knew when I was a teenager, who had red hair. But the other two Hannahs who spring to mind, definitely not. So that's 50%, right?

Nonetheless: what mattholomew said.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 8:15 PM on March 25, 2010


Every Hannah I know is brunette.

Every Natalie is brunette, though. That's a real rule.
posted by Nattie at 10:10 PM on March 25, 2010


All the Hanna/Hannahs I know are brunettes, yet all of the redheads I've met are Jewish. Until reading this page, I'd never noticed a correlation.
posted by mollywas at 6:12 PM on March 26, 2010


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