Spurious Also? Name Similarity Effects (Implicit Egotism) in Employer Decisions
14 Pages Posted: 25 Nov 2010
Date Written: 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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