New York University psychologist Adam Alter and colleagues looked into how the ability to pronounce a company’s name affected its performance in the stock market. They found that companies with easy to comprehend names and ticker numbers traded better than the stocks of companies with hard to read names.
“The effect is often very, very hard to quantify because so much depends on context, but it’s there and measurable,” Alter told Wired magazine. “You cant avoid it.”
Alter and colleagues carried out five studies to test the theory. They asked students to rank 50 surnames according to how easy or how difficult they were to pronounce and then to rate them on their likeability. In another test, students voted on hypothetical political candidates solely on the basis of their names, and again based on their names and some political positions.
“Altogether the researchers found that a name’s pronounceability, regardless of length or seeming foreignness, mattered most in determining likeability. Ease of pronunciation accounted for about 40 percent of off-the-cuff likability.”
Other studies explored how name pronunciation effects job growth. In these studies, students rated the likeability of lawyers based on their names and compared that against the lawyers’ academic history, salaries and job positions. The results showed a significant correlation.
The research is published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.