There is a current trend to pick, analyze, and tear apart baby names. A popular gossip website even has a resident “expert” doling out her opinions on baby names. Choose a strong name. Choose a name that goes well with the last name. Choose a name that evokes a judge, not a stripper. After all, the kid will become the name. Name her “Alexandra,” and she’ll become a high-powered lawyer, who takes her career to the next level in American politics. Blah.
This is a frightening trend. So, I’m not sure about adding fuel to the fire. Yet I may be with this research. But we’re going beyond the first name to the middle name. Well, we’re going even further than that – wait for it – to the middle initial.
A new study1 indicates that people think an individual with a middle-initial is smarter, more accomplished than an individual without one. The middle-initial effect is only evident when judging an individual in a domain in which intellectual performance is primary (e.g., Quiz Team) as opposed to secondary (e.g., Sports Group).
Now, let’s do a thought experiment.
You get two pieces of work to read. They’re the same except for the author’s name:
One has “David Clark.”
The other has “David F. Clark”
Who do you think is smarter?
Yes, me too.
1 Van Tilburg, W. A. P., & Igou, E. R. (2014). The impact of middle names: Middle name initials enhance evaluations of intellectual performance. European Journal of Social Psychology, 44(4), 400-411.
“Hello My Name Is” by Robert Occhialini