Author: Christina Wing
Mentor: Sarah Grey
College: Fordham College at Rose Hill
Presentation Type: Poster, Rotunda
This study investigates the relationship between processing fluency of names and character judgments of the name-carrier. In general, processing fluency can be understood as how easily one is able to process a stimulus and/or information. Studying processing fluency can help to contribute to cognitive and sociolinguistic research. The experiment tested the following research question: does the processing fluency of American English first names impact the judgment of the name-carrier’s character? Sixty seven participants completed an online survey that gathered character-judgment ratings of familiar (high processing fluency) and unfamiliar (low processing fluency) first names. Participants rated how strongly they associate the name with a series of character attributes, such as loyalty, selfishness, and competence. Preliminary descriptive results from the study show that familiar and unfamiliar first names were rated similarly, on average, for associations with positive and negative character attributes. Standard deviations of these averages varied slightly between familiar and unfamiliar names, with unfamiliar names having a slightly larger standard deviation. It is well-known that relatively controllable factors such as appearance and behavior play a large role in how one is perceived and treated in society, and results from this study may now platform the factor of one’s first name as something to be further considered in discussions of character perception and social interaction.