30-Second Psychology: The 50 Most Thought-provoking Psychology Theories, Each Explained in Half a Minute - Christian Jarrett 2011
Ways We Differ
There’s a urologist at my local hospital called Mr Waterfall. A palliative care expert at Lancaster University is called Sheila Payne, and at the University of New Mexico there’s an expert on the evolutionary psychology of sexuality called Randy Thornhill. The idea that the destiny of these individuals was shaped by their names has been dubbed ’nominative determinism’. In fact there’s little evidence that the meaning of our names really does influence our career choices — just think of all the people whose names don’t match their professions. However, there are other ways in which our names can affect our lives. For instance, people with surnames near the start of the alphabet tend to enjoy certain benefits, such as being given more time during medical consultations. In economics, in which the authors of papers are listed in alphabetical order, there’s even evidence that people with an alphabetical name advantage have more successful careers. Names that reveal a person’s ethnicity can also exert an influence. Research conducted in the United States found that a résumé attributed to a black-sounding name, such as Jamal, was less likely to receive an employer response than an identical résumé attributed to a white-sounding name, such as Emily.
Our names and initials can affect our lives in intriguing ways.
Another way our names can influence our lives is via the initials that they spell out. Nicholas Christenfeld at the University of California, San Diego, analyzed thousands of California death certificates and found that men with positive initials (e.g. A.C.E.) outlived by an average of four years those with neutral initials, whereas men with negative initials (e.g. D.I.E.) died, on average, two years younger than those with neutral initials.
THE BIG FIVE
FUNDAMENTAL ATTRIBUTION ERROR
NATURE VIA NURTURE
If your surname is Thompson, try not to give your child first and middle names beginning with R and O, respectively.