Does Your Name Boost Your Credibility?

It appears people are more inclined to believe you if your name is easy to pronounce:

In a new study, published in PLoS ONE, the researchers asked undergraduate volunteers to rate the pronounceability of real names from 18 countries, and then used these ratings to generate a set of difficult to pronounce names, such as Yevgeni Dherzhinsky, and a set of easy names, such as Putali Angami. The researchers then told a new group of undergraduate participants that some international students had listed their favorite trivia statements, such as “Giraffes are the only mammals that cannot jump,” and that the participants’ task would be to read some of those statements, and report whether they thought that the statements were true or false. Importantly, each trivia statement was paired with a difficult to pronounce name (“Yevgeni Dherzhinsky said:”), or an easy name, from the sets generated earlier.

The authors hypothesized that claims paired with easy names would be rated as true more often than claims paired with difficult names. The results supported the authors’ hypothesis: Difficult to pronounce names led to near-chance “true” responses, whereas statements paired with easy names elicited more “true” responses. The results from this study clearly show that the pronounceability of people’s names can influence the “truthiness” we feel when evaluating their claims: We seem to believe Putali Angami and Bodo Wallmeyer more than Shobha Bhattacharya and Yevgeny Dherzhinsky.