Got a name like Wojewodzic? Sorry, no promotion

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People with easy to pronounce names win friends and favour in the workplace, a new study has found.

According to research by Dr Simon Laham at the University of Melbourne and Dr Adam Alter at the New York University Stern School of Business, those with a simple, easy-to-pronounce name were more likely to be favoured for political office and job promotions.

In the first study of its kind, and published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, researchers analysed 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.

Dr Laham commented that subtle biases that we may not even be aware of are enough to 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 said. Dr Alter added that many people simply aren’t aware of the subtle impact that names can have on their judgments. “It’s important to appreciate the subtle biases that shape our choices and judgments about others.  Such an appreciation may help us de-bias our thinking, leading to fairer, more objective treatment of others.”

The 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.


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