The Power of Names: Do They Really Define You?
Wharton professor Uri Simonsohn says there's a likely tie. People tend to gravitate toward companies, places, people and possessions that start with the same letter their names do. But Simonsohn, who did a new study on the power of names, came up with different reasons than previous researchers have.
According to Simonsohn, the phenomenon can't simply be pinned on "implicit egotism" on our parts (phew!), as other studies have suggested. In other words, he says, people don't subconsciously seek jobs, marital partners, places to live and even cars whose names start with the same letter as theirs simply because they have positive feelings associated with that letter.
Instead, he posits, it's "reverse causality." Translation: They take matters into their own hands, deliberately choosing to fill their lives with affiliations, people and places with the same monogram they have. So for example, they might give a business they start a name beginning with their own first initial.
"Rather than employees seeking out companies with similar names, people starting new companies may name them after themselves," says Simonsohn. "Walt Disney worked for a company starting with D not because of an unconscious attraction to that letter, but because he so christened it."
But on some level, people probably are partial to their own initials and may unknowingly make some choices based on them, he admits. It's just that the letters are unlikely to truly influence the course their lives take.
"I can't imagine people don't like their own letter more than other letters," says Simonsohn, "[but] the differences it makes in really big decisions are probably slim."
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