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You should be using that middle initial...here's why

This article is brought to you by Sinéad M O’Carroll.

Image: TheJournal.ie

JOHN F KENNEDY.

Michael D Higgins.

Franklin D Roosevelt.

Michael J Fox.

John D Rockefeller.

John B Keane.

The list goes on and on.

Lots of very successful people have incorporated that normally-useless middle name into their every day, and not just for passport form purposes.

It may have helped them on their path to success, according to a new study, as people may have perceived them to be smarter because of it.

Reseachers at the University of Limerick have shown that people can benefit from displaying the initial.

More than 500 people participated in the study which involved the assessment of various essays.

In one example, an essay of an author by the name of David Clark was evaluated less positively than the same essay written by an author named David F. P. R. Clark.

“At the start of this research project we discussed various findings suggesting that names have a tremendous impact of person perception and on life in general,” explained Dr. Eric R. Igou who works at the Department of Psychology at UL.

“We then wanted to examine the impact of middle names, and in particular the impact of middle initials, on perceptions that people form about others with versus without middle initials in their names.

“Middle initials are often displayed in contexts in which intellectual achievements matter. We thus predicted that the display of middle initials would increase perception of intellectual capacities and performance, and this is exactly what we found.

“Importantly, however, these person perceptions are limited to contexts where intellectual achievements are central.”

The middle initials effect only occurred in domains where intellectual performance matters (for example, intellectual quizzes) but not where intellectual performances are secondary (for example, team sports).

Importantly, the middle initials effect on inferences about intellectual performance was based on the perception of status. For example, a person with no middle initial was seen as lesser in status than one with middle initials, and this difference accounted largely for the inferences about intellectual performance.

According to Limerick, this is the first detailed study to establish a link between middle name initials and perceptions of status, and intellectual capacities and performance.

“These findings have implications for the psychology of person perception and in particular for inferences about people’s status and intellect,” the university said in a statement.

The custom of the wider population giving middle names began in the 19th Century. Before then, the nobility were already giving their children multiple names to help denote family lineage.

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