The Name-Letter Effect, or, Why Mildred Moved to Milwaukee
|21 November 2007|
People tend to like the letters in their names more than the letters that are not in their names. This tendency, called the “name-letter effect,” may even influence some of the major life decisions people make. Studies have shown that people are disproportionately likely to…
- Live in states or cities that resemble their names (i.e. Philip living in Philadelphia)
- Have careers that resemble their names (i.e. Laura becoming a lawyer)
- Choose brands that resemble their names (i.e. Peggy buying Pepsi)
- Marry people whose surnames–or, less often, first names–begin with the same letter as their own (i.e. Jack marrying Jill)
The downside to this phenomenon is that if your initials match a negative outcome, you’re less likely to see that outcome as averse. This could make it harder for you to succeed. For instance, studies have found that:
- Students whose first or last names start with A or B tend to get better grades and go to better law schools than those whose first or last names start with C or D.
- Baseball players whose first or last names start with K (e.g. Kevin Kouzmanoff) are more likely to strike out than other players.
None of the above correlations are extremely strong, but they’re statistically significant. So if you want your daughter to reach the Supreme Court, you might want to name her Lauren instead of Cecilia or Deirdre. If your dream is to see your son play in the majors, you might want to play it safe and give him something other than a k-name.
(The researchers who conducted the aforementioned studies include Jozef Nuttin, Brett Pelham, Mauricio Carvallo, Matthew Mirenberg, John Jones, Tom DeHart, John Hetts, C. Miguel Brendl, Amitava Chattopadhyay, Leif Nelson and Joseph Simmons.)