“Positive” Initials May Lengthen Lifespan

A couple of years ago, I posted about the correlation between D-names and shorter lifespans. Yesterday’s post on the middle initial effect reminded me of a similar correlation that I’ve never blogged about, surprisingly.

A study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research way back in 1999 looked at how “positive” and “negative” initials initials affect longevity. The researchers posited that “[i]f names affect attitudes and attitudes affect longevity, then individuals with “positive” initials…might live longer than those with “negative” initials.”

And that is indeed the case. Here are the initials they focused on, ordered from highest average age at death to lowest:

Positive Initials Negative Initials
L.O.V.
(76.85 years)
H.O.G.
L.I.V.
I.L.L.
B.U.M.
W.I.N.
G.O.D.
A.C.E.
L.I.F.
H.U.G.
V.I.P.
A.S.S.
P.I.G.
A.P.E.
R.O.T.
W.O.W.
W.E.L.
S.I.K.
J.O.Y.
M.A.D.
D.I.E.
S.I.C.
U.G.H.
D.U.D.
B.U.G.
D.E.D.
B.A.D.
R.A.T.
S.A.D.
D.T.H.
(58.90 years)

Men and women with positive initials lived an average of 4.48 and 3.36 years longer, respectively, than match controls. Men with negative initials, on the other hand, died an average of 2.80 years earlier. (No similar decrease for women.)

While the influence was observed across “nearly all disease categories,” there seemed to be a particularly strong association with “causes of death with obvious psychological components (such as suicides and accidents).”

I wonder if initials that have become more or positive or negative within the last couple of decades — initials like L.O.L. and W.T.F., for instance — will eventually have the same influence. What do you think?

Source: Christenfeld, Nicholas, David P. Phillips and Laura M. Glynn. “What’s in a name: Mortality and the power of symbols.” Journal of Psychosomatic Research 47.3 (1999): 241-254.


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