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.