Tuesday, September 09, 2008

What's in a name? Quite a lot as it happens ...

If you've not heard of Professor Richard Wiseman before then you've been missing a treat. Richard is that rarest of creatures; an academic with his feet firmly planted in the real world. His pedigree is extraordinary. He's been, among other things, a stage magician and a psychologist, and his area of study is ... well, everyday life. And that's what makes him different.

Instead of studying wavelengths of light or the human genome or tectonic plate shifts, Richard Wiseman studies things like luck, romance, shopping habits, small talk, house-buying ... all the ordinary everyday stuff that you and I get on with without quite realising that we are being influenced in our decisions and choices. He's published a host of scientific papers plus three fascinating popular books The Luck Factor, Did you spot the Gorilla? and Quirkology all of which made excellent reading. And he runs a Quirkology website where he encourages us all to take part in his research by filling in on-line surveys.

His latest study is all about romance. Click on the link here and join in. It takes about five minutes and you'll be adding to the volume of research; the larger the test group, the better the results.

Meanwhile, he's just published the surprising results of research into how we view certain forenames. Do we attach meaning to people's names? Do we subconsciously trust a James more than we do a Stephen? (Oh, the answer is yes to that one). You can read the results here.

I'm changing my name to Jack.

13 comments:

willow said...

Oh, I love this kind of thing. I'm going to check out his site and see if my library has any of his books. :P

Stevyn Colgan said...

You won't be disappointed - it's fascinating stuff. The Quirkology book is the most interesting.

chris hale said...

What an interesting man. I was particularly taken with the surname experiment, suggesting that, if your initials are (for example) P.I.G, B.U.M or D.I.E, you risk a shorter life than someone with initials spelling H.U.G, J.O.Y, etc.

I think if I were christened Brian Ulysses Morton, I'd be asking my parents what the hell they thought they were playing at, and then changing the name by deed poll!

Stevyn Colgan said...

I'm just thankful that my middle name isn't Ulysses, Ignatious or Aloysius. SUC, SIC or SAC ... there's nothing good to be said about any of them.

chris hale said...

Your musings have prompted me to nail some of my own rather random thoughts on names to my blog. Any contributions gratefully received and acknowledged!

Katie said...

I think a name says A LOT about a person... as well as nicknames. ;) my initials are KEN, by the way. got a lot of crap from that growing up in a small town. ha.

thanks for stopping by my blog.

Brit' Gal Sarah said...

Just advising I got my book of clouds todat thank you :-)

Stevyn Colgan said...

Katie (or should I call you Ken) - thanks for popping by. Enjoyed your blog - great photos.

Sarah - I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

joelmead said...

This was an interesting post and I did visit the link. Noticed that my name wasn't in the list. My initials are JM and I have no middle name so what does that mean:)
keep up the good work, mate, and I'm looking forward to seeing your book in the flesh…

Stevyn Colgan said...

Joel - Flesh? That's a scary thought. ou have the same initials as Murphy! I never noticed!

Debby said...

I pass by a chiropractor's office on my way to Erie each week. His name? Pat Good. After two years, it still gives me a smile.

Janet said...

Thanks for the links. Wiseman is a very interesting guy.

I had a friend, years ago, whose initials were "SAD". She claimed that her parents were really appalled, when she started school, when they realized what they had done.

Sadly, Janet hasn't made the name analysis list, though. Sigh.

Janet

Stevyn Colgan said...

Pat Good! Ha!

I hesitated to share this story but I must ... when I was growing up in Cornwall, the local electricity supplier was called South West Electricity Board or SWEB. The manager of the local branch named is daughter Sharon Wendy Estelle Baxter (I did change the surname there).

And yes, Richard Wiseman is a fascinating chap!