Chads are destined for a C average

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

From your new car to your main squeeze, research suggests you can blame life choices on your name.

Recent studies conducted by the University of California, San Diego and Yale University looked at the subconscious influence of someone’s name and initials, known as the “name-letter effect.”

Assistant management professors Leif Nelson of UCSD and Joseph Simmons of Yale analyzed 15,000 MBA students, 6,398 baseball players, and thousands of students from various undergraduate and law programs.

Five years worth of research revealed peoples’ preference towards their own initials can sometimes be detrimental.

For instance, students whose names start with C or D tend to achieve lower grades than those whose start with A or B.

And Major-League Baseball players whose first or last names begin with K are more likely to strikeout, since K is the strikeout-signifying letter.

James Olson, a psychology professor said the name-letter effect is a strong subconscious process.

“I believe the effect is real. It’s very small, but it’s there,” Olson said. “It’s not a deliberate, rational process ... so we’re not really aware of it.”

Olson published a study with Brock University professor Gordon Hodson in 2005 to determine whether people might have favourable attitudes to everyday objects beginning with their initials. For instance, would a fellow named Allen like apples more than other fruits?

Apparently not, Olson found.

After four separate studies, he discovered there was no tendency for people to like everyday objects with the same letter as their name.

Olson said the name-letter effect has been observed repeatedly in other studies though, but only when the samples are large " such as in Nelson and Simmons’ research.

“[The name-letter effect] is not coincidence since it happens in test after test,” Olson added.

“We tend to think of ourselves in positive ways ... so it’s not surprising something so closely connected to the self as one’s name has some kind of effect of attraction.”

Western students were surprised " although some actually recalled the name-letter effect in their own decisions.

Simon Dyakowski, a fourth-year managerial and organizational studies student, could see the potential connection, as he’d most likely purchase a San Diego baseball cap over another team.

But first-year arts student Jessica Maybe said it probably depends on the person, and she has never felt particularly drawn to places or things with her initials.

“I liked a guy named Jesse when I was younger,” she recalled. “But I think that was the guy, not the name.”

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