Can Your Name Influence Your Job Choice?

Experts say yes in new study
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 25, 2011 3:53 PM CST
Usain Bolt, William Wordsworth: Can Your Name Influence Job Choice?
Usain Bolt of Jamaica reacts as he wins the 100-meter men's race at Zagreb's IAAF athletics meeting, in Zagreb on September 13, 2011.   (Getty Images)

Ever noticed how perfect the name Wordsworth is for a poet, or wondered whether Usain Bolt's last name prompted his running career? Researchers are currently investigating whether one's name can influence one's choice of job, with one study already suggesting it can. Indeed, it's become a big enough field to earn its own name: nominative determinism, the Telegraph reports. The term first appeared in New Scientist, whose editor has been mulling the issue.

He was intrigued by a paper on incontinence by one Mr. Splatt, as well as a book on polar regions by a Mr. Snowman. "I thought, there’s something going on here," he said. Meanwhile, another study points to an unusual number of dentists named Dennis and Denise, and found that people disproportionately "choose careers whose labels resemble their names." People "prefer things that are connected to the self (for example, the letters in one's name)," said the study's authors. But why people take jobs that seem to oppose their names (like Doctor Pain, or urologist Burns-Cox) remains a mystery. (More Usain Bolt stories.)

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