Georgetown professor pioneers the “last name effect”

Were you born into a Zeigler or Zimmerman family, doomed to a childhood of being last in line? You may not care anymore, but the alphabetical line has already done its damage.

The first letter of your last name may determine your response time to limited buying opportunities as adults, according to findings by  Georgetown professor Kurt Carlson. Along with Jacqueline Conrad of Belmont University, Carlson was able to produce evidence for the “last name effect,” as published in the Journal of Consumer Research.

The pair’s method was to email participants with a limited-time offer for tickets to an exclusive basketball game, and clock their response time. Those with last names near the end of the alphabet responded faster to the offer than those with names in the first part of the alphabet.

They hypothesize that we are trained as kids to compensate for being at the end of a line, and often lines are formed alphabetically.

Critics of this paper have been vocal, but Carlson isn’t worried. “No study is perfect,” Carlson told The Wall Street Journal . “But my co-author’s maiden name is Yates and she jumped at the chance to work on this paper immediately.”

Via: The Wall Street Journal

2 Comments on “Georgetown professor pioneers the “last name effect”

  1. What if your name comes smack-dab in the middle of the alphabet, and you are never first and never last? Is there a “middle child” personality here?

  2. Then you’re a child in more trouble — \the undecided child\ — not knowing if go of not go, not knowing if respond prompt or not, and always waiting to see what others will do. The \middle-child personality\ is worse than being the last or the first. I have said it and my word hath gone forth!!

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