Does our name hold our destiny?

Guido Alessandri, Department of Psychology
2017-01-31
Social Sciences and Humanities

This  study, conducted by an international research team composed by Professors Guido Alessandri and Enrico Perinelli of Sapienza University, M. Brent Donnellan (Texas A&M) and Mariola Laguna (Catholic University of Lublin), demonstrates that there is absolutely no correlation between our names and personal self-esteem. A name has no special meaning for the individual.

In the early Eighties, Belgian psychologist Nuttin and, later, researchers Greenwald and Banaji, studied the preference for the letters that make up names. This predilection, referred to as the "name letter effect", was considered the key to understanding the unconscious feelings of the individual. The evolution of this field of study has also led to hypotheses on the relationship between the meaning of names and implicit self-esteem.

The research group conducted their investigation on two samples, following the interviewed individuals over the course of several weeks. The resulting paradigm, developed on statistical surveys, pointed to the conclusion that there is no correlation between names and self-esteem, excluding any key to understanding an individual’s mental sphere through this parameter.

"Whatever the weight of the name (or of the initials) in the existence of each one of us” explains Prof. Guido Alessandri, “it certainly does not determine our value, let alone our daily lives”.

The implications of this research, published in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, will affect many fields of psychology, starting with the clinic one. It reveals how individual lifestyle choices are not affected by the value attached to a name, unlike some studies that suggest there is a relationship between our name, city of residence, profession or even partner. Our names, therefore, despite having an important meaning for us, do not hold our destiny.
 

INFO

Team Leader
Guido Alessandri
Dip. di Psicologia