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Moniker Maladies: When Names Sabotage Success

23 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2006  

Leif D. Nelson

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business

Joseph P. Simmons

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School

Date Written: March 17, 2007

Abstract

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.

Keywords: unconscious attitudes, implicit attitudes

Suggested Citation

Nelson, Leif D. and Simmons, Joseph P., Moniker Maladies: When Names Sabotage Success (March 17, 2007). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=946249 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.946249

Leif Nelson (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )

545 Student Services Building, #1900
2220 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Joseph Simmons

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School ( email )

3733 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6374
United States

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