Study of the Day: Having a Simple Name Is Good in the Workplace

More

New research from the University of Melbourne shows employees with easier-to-pronounce monikers are more likely to get promoted.

main simple name.jpg

PROBLEM: How do names influence impression formation and decision-making in the workplace or in elections?

METHODOLOGY: Researchers led by University of Melbourne's Simon Laham analyzed how the pronunciation of names can influence perceptions and shape decisions to promote an employee or to vote for a candidate. They used field data on 500 lawyers in the U.S. for their workplace findings and conducted a mock ballot experiment to test their theory in a political context as well. They also used a range of names from Anglo, Asian, and Western and Eastern European backgrounds.

RESULTS: Attorneys with more pronounceable names rose more quickly to superior positions in their firms, while political aspirants with simpler names exhibited better odds of getting elected. Interestingly, this effect was driven by a moniker's ease of pronunciation, not its length or cultural origins.

CONCLUSION: People with easy-to-pronounce names are favored at work and in elections.

IMPLICATION: Laham says in a statement that it's important to realize that subtle predilections shape our choices and judgments of the people around us. He says, "Such an appreciation may help us de-bias our thinking, leading to fairer, more objective treatment of others."

SOURCE: The full study, "The Name-Pronunciation Effect: Why People Like Mr. Smith More Than Mr. Colquhoun" (PDF), is published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

Image: Hans Villarica.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Hans Villarica writes for and produces The Atlantic's Health channel. His work has appeared in TIME, People Asia, and Fast Company.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Health

Just In