What's in a name? Turns out more than you might think. Just as your last name could influence your decision making, how pronounceable your name is to others could affect their view of you. Specifically, one study finds people tend to most trust those with easily pronounced names.
Picture: Jack Dorsey/Flickr
That's bad news for Shobha Bhattacharya, but it's good news for Putali Angami.
In a series of experiments, researchers had participants rate names for things like riskiness or evaluate information (trivia facts or falsehoods, like "Giraffes are the only mammals that can't jump") from pairs of names, one easily pronounced and the other more difficult to pronounce. (To account for ethnic bias, the names were paired by region. For example, Adrian Bebeshko vs Czeslaw Ratynska.)
They found that:
Across four experiments, our findings tell a clear story: People with easy names and their claims are evaluated more favourably relative to their difficult counterparts, for both positive and negative evaluations. Easy names were evaluated as more familiar, less risky and less dangerous (Experiments 1a — 1c, respectively). This effect of pronounceability bolsters earlier demonstrations that both things and people with easier to pronounce names are evaluated more positively , , . Considered together, our findings show that easy names can confer a host of benefits on the people who bear them.
This unconscious bias could unfairly affect immigrants in particular. As an article by the Scientific American points out, immigrants who Westernised their names have fared better overall in the job market.
It's important to be aware of this name bias, especially for situations when you're evaluating people, such as looking at job applications and deciding between two equally qualified candidates or serving on a jury.