Want to Seem Smarter? Use Your Middle Initial

Using a middle initial really does make you seem smarter to others.

Researchers Wijnand A. P. Van Tilburg (University of Southampton) and Eric R. Igou (University of Limerick) conducted a series of studies on the “middle initial effect.” Their results were published in the European Journal of Social Psychology in April. Here’s part of the abstract:

Middle name initials often appear in formal contexts, especially when people refer to intellectual achievements. On the basis of this common link, the display of middle initials increases positive evaluations of people’s intellectual capacities and achievements.

So there you have it. If you want people to think even more highly of your “intellectual capacities and achievements” than they already do, just throw in your middle initial(s).

P.S. Wijnand is a Dutch name pronounced “VIE-nahnt.” It’s made up of two elements, the first meaning “war,” the second meaning “brave.”

Sources: The impact of middle names: Middle name initials enhance evaluations of intellectual performance, The Quickest Way To Sound Smart? Use Your Middle Initial


5 thoughts on “Want to Seem Smarter? Use Your Middle Initial

  1. Like when Homer Simpson tried to change his name to Rembrandt Q. Einstein before settling for Max Power.

    I would put Anna V. Otto as my name, but it sounds like an Italian ice cream brand when you say it out loud.

  2. Good point — an “O” in the middle would probably make a lot of names sound Irish. Just like Anna’s “D” makes her sound Italian.

    (Though it’s only an issue if you say the middle initials out loud. You can still get the benefit of the middle initial effect in written form, just not mention your middle initial when you speak your full name.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *