Life with an unpronounceable name

Pediatric development researchers Dennis P. Carmody and Michael Lewis reported in “Brain Research” in 2006 that hearing your own name has “unique brain functioning activation specific to [it] in relation to the names of others.” Hearing your name triggers a physiological response — it’s comforting, it draws your attention and generates the the so-called Cocktail Party Effect, or “selective attention,” which enables people to segregate their own names, for instance, among other various auditory stimuli. Your name is yours and yours alone. Others may share it, but what it means to you is unique on many levels of personal identification and association.

Your name could also, potentially, impact the outcome of your life.

A study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology in 2011 titled “Why People Like Mr. Smith More Than Mr. Colquhoun,” found there are certain advantages to going through life with an “easier” name. The study, led by Dr. Simon M. Laham, demonstrated that people are more inclined to “form positive impressions of easy-to-pronounce names.” For instance, lawyers with more conventionally pronounceable names were more likely to rise to higher positions in their firm’s hierarchy.

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