The Situation of a Name
Posted by The Situationist Staff on June 28, 2008
Robin Turner has an interesting article in Wales Online, titled “People’s names linked to self-esteem, says Welsh research.” We’ve pasted a few excerpts below.
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What’s in a name? Future happiness, self-esteem and peace of mind, according to research carried out in a Welsh university.
But Jochen Gebauer, lead author of a new psychological study, warns that people really have to like their own names before the peace of mind, happiness and self- esteem kick in.
He claims to have uncovered a clear link between name-liking and overall self-esteem. “People who have high self-esteem tend to like their name more,” said Mr Gebauer, a PhD student in the school of psychology at Cardiff University.
“The reason is known as the ‘mere-ownership effect’ which essentially means that if we like ourselves, we prefer things that are ours to other options.” “Another study established this effect years ago when people were given toasters and other household appliances to compare. No matter what they were given, they always preferred the item that was theirs.
“When you own a certain object, then you put the value you have for yourself into this object.” But he says the connection to name-liking provides a better way to assess self-esteem.
According to Mr Gebauer, self- esteem is one of the most heavily studied psychological concepts and “the Holy Grail of modern times”.
He said, “If you have high self-esteem, everything is good. You have no social problems, you are less aggressive, you feel better about yourself, you have more friends and people like you more.”
His paper on the link between name-liking and self-esteem will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.
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More research into names at America’s Yale University conducted by Joseph Simmons, assistant professor of marketing, indicates that people subconsciously make decisions based on their names.
In a paper titled Moniker Maladies: When Names Sabotage Success, he says someone called Sandy is, for instance, more likely to buy a Saturn (a type of car), move to San Diego, and marry someone called Sandler.
A person called Richard, he argues, is more likely to buy a Renault, move to Richmond, and marry Ricarda. He said,”This phenomenon is called the name letter effect (NLE), and appears to be an unconscious effect.”
In America, baseball strikeouts are represented by a K and he found batters with K initials struck out more often than others.
Similarly, he discovered C or D initialled students tended to have lower exam results than A or B initialled students.
Mr Simmons says future parents should consider the name-letter effect but shouldn’t panic. He told a conference in the US, “I will be the first to admit that the effects that we have observed are quite small, and so there’s no need to panic if you recently named your child Christine or Diana.”
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