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Spurious Also? Name Similarity Effects (Implicit Egotism) in Employer Decisions

Uri Simonsohn

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School

November 24, 2010

Implicit egotism is the notion that major life decisions are influenced by name-similarity. This paper revisits the evidence for the most systematic test of this hypothesis. Anseel & Duyck (2008) analyzed data from 1/3 of all Belgian employees and found that a disproportionate fraction of them shared their initial with their employer. Using a dataset with American employees I replicate the finding, but new analyses strongly suggest they are due to reverse causality, whereby the documented effect seems to be driven by people naming companies they start after themselves rather than by employees seeking out companies they have a shared initial with. Walt Disney, for example, worked for a company starting with D (Disney World) not because of an unconscious attraction to such letter, but because the company was named after him.

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Date posted: November 25, 2010  

Suggested Citation

Simonsohn, Uri, Spurious Also? Name Similarity Effects (Implicit Egotism) in Employer Decisions (November 24, 2010). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1714599 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1714599

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Uri Simonsohn (Contact Author)
University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School ( email )
3730 Walnut Street
JMHH 500
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6365
United States

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