New York University Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Navigation Skip to Sub Navigation

Study Finds People With Easy-to-Pronounce Names Are Favored

April 13, 2012

Having a simple, easy-to-pronounce name is more likely to win you friends and favor in the workplace, a study by Simon Laham at the University of Melbourne and Adam Alter at NYU’s Stern School of Business has found.

In the first study of its kind, published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, researchers analyzed how the pronunciation of names can influence impression formation and decision-making. In particular, they demonstrated “the name pronunciation effect,” which occurs when people with easy-to-pronounce names are evaluated more positively than those with difficult-to-pronounce names.

The study revealed that people with more pronounceable names were more likely to be favored for political office and job promotions; political candidates with easy-to-pronounce names were more likely to win a race; and attorneys with more pronounceable names rose more quickly to superior positions in their firm hierarchies, based on a field study of 500 first and last names of U.S. lawyers.

Lead author Laham says subtle biases affect our decisions and choices.

“Research findings revealed that the effect is not due merely to the length of a name or how foreign-sounding or unusual it is, but rather how easy it is to pronounce,” he says.

Laham believes the results have important implications for the management of bias and discrimination in our society.

“It’s important to appreciate the subtle biases that shape our choices and judgments,” he says. “Such an appreciation may help us de-bias our thinking, leading to fairer, more objective treatment of others.”

Researchers conducted studies both in lab settings and in a natural environment using a range of names from Anglo, Asian, and Western and Eastern European backgrounds.

Type: Article

Study Finds People With Easy-to-Pronounce Names Are Favored

Search News



NYU In the News

CUSP Unveils its “Urban Observatory”

Crain’s New York Business profiled CUSP’s “Urban Observatory” that is continuously photographing lower Manhattan to gather scientific data.

Post-Sandy Upgrades at the Langone Medical Center

NY1 reported on the major post-Sandy upgrades and renovations made at the Medical Center to protect the hospital from future catastrophic storms.

Steinhardt Research Helps Solve Tough Speech Problems.

The Wall Street Journal reported on research at Steinhardt’s Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders, including an interview with Assistant Professor Tara McAllister Byun, that uses ultrasound to help solve tough speech problems.

Times Column Lauds Professor Stevenson’s New Memoir

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote a column about “Just Mercy,” a new memoir by Law Professor Bryan Stevenson, the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, whom he noted has been called America’s Nelson Mandela.

Entrepreneurship Lab Opens at NYU

Crain’s New York Business covered the opening of the Mark and Debra Leslie Entrepreneurial eLab, which will be the headquarters for NYU’s Entrepreneurial Institute and all of the University’s programs aimed at promoting innovation and startups.

NYU Footer