Your Name Might Be Affecting How You Act

There might be a scientific reason why Kourtney Kardashian named her newest son Reign—it turns out your name might influence your personality, the way you act, and the choices you make. The association between names and personality has been researched for decades.

In a new video, PBS Digital Studios' BrainCraft series shows how our names affect our lives in various ways. For example, people are disproportionately likely to live in places whose names resemble their own: for example, there were a large population of Georges and Georgias living in the state of Georgia.

Even more bizarre, researchers also found that people are more likely to live in cities whose names began with their birthday numbers (if you were born in the second month, February, you were likely to live in a city like Two Arbors), and people were more likely to choose careers whose labels resembled their names (Dennis and Denise, for instance, are overrepresented among dentists).

If that’s not weird enough, a recent group of undergraduate students found that when you work in a group, sharing initials with other people in your group improves the ultimate quality of your work together. (Coincidentally, the study was conducted by three researchers with the surnames of Polman, Pollmann and Poehlman.) These researchers believe that this tendency is caused by the “Name-letter effect,” or “mere exposure effect,” which means that individuals have a preference for letters in our names because they are exposed to them so frequently. This effect is not limited to the English language; it spans over 12 different European languages as well.

“We’re unconsciously attracted to people, places, and things that resemble ourselves,” PBS reports.

Scientists call this strange phenomenon "implicit egotism," which is defined by the Association for Psychological Science as an implicit judgmental consequence of people's positive self-associations. As Brett W. Pelham, Matthew C. Mirenberg, and John T. Jones of the State Univeristy of New York at Buffalo found, because most people connect anything with related to the self with the self, even phonetically, these connections are seen as positive as well.

So it seems that there actually is a reason why Sally sells seashells down by the seashore! 

How does your name affect your behaviors?