Moniker Maladies: When Names Sabotage Success
Leif D. Nelson
University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business
Joseph P. Simmons
University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School; University of Pennsylvania - Operations & Information Management Department
March 17, 2007
People like their names enough to unconsciously approach consciously-avoided name-resembling outcomes. Baseball players avoid strikeouts, but players with strikeout-signifying K-initials strike out more than others (Study 1). All students want A's, but C- and D-initialed students find initial-resembling outcomes less aversive and achieve lower GPAs (Study 2), particularly if they like their initials (Study 3). Because lower GPAs lead to lesser graduate schools, C- and D-initialed students go to lower ranked law schools than their A- and B-initialed counterparts (Study 4). Finally, in an experimental design, participants perform worse when a consolation prize shares their first initial (Study 5). These findings provide striking evidence that unconscious wants can insidiously undermine conscious pursuits.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 23
Keywords: unconscious attitudes, implicit attitudes
Date posted: November 22, 2006
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