Study Says Middle Initials Are Perceived to Be Associated with Intellectual Ability

TIME

The idea that names have power is a staple of mythology and a cliché in genre fiction; in both, though, it’s a proxy that represents the essential nature of a person or thing. (To wit: the eponymous main character in Orson Scott Card’s magnum opus, Ender’s Game, lives up to his name by the end of the narrative. No spoilers.)

In a more tangible sense, one might say that names fit—or perhaps grow to fit—a person’s perceived nature. As it turns out, new research published in the European Journal of Social Psychology has found that there’s some truth to the idea. Psychologists Wijnand A. P. van Tilburg and Eric R. Igou argue that middle initials in author’s names “increased the evaluation of their writing performance, and middle initials increased perceptions of status,” they write. “Moreover,” they continue, “the middle initials effect was specific to intellectual performance, and it was…

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