I am reading Adam Alter’s delightful “Drunk Tank Pink” (2012) at the moment. The first chapter is about how we may be shaped by our names and the names of others.
Altar reminds us of an article by the urologists Splatt and Weedon (Splatt AJ, Weedon D 1977 Br J Urology 49: 173). I always enjoyed the Israeli tennis player Anna Smashova last decade. There are many more examples of this seemingly professional determinism. Altar asks whether Usain Bolt could run as fast if he was named Usain Plod. Or maybe even Umad Plod would be even slower!
My dear friend, the PT Luca Buongiorno may well have a head start over an Adam Payne for example. I wonder if my own name, Butler may have moulded my very passive inclinations earlier in my career. Maybe David Helpman would have been better? And even the term “Physiotherapy” to me seems to denote more of a passivity than the more robust “Physical Therapy”.
Our names do determine our actions to some degree. One study brought up by Altman was donations for the Hurricane Katrina. Usually people with names starting with K donate 4% to all disasters, but with Katrina it was 10%. A similar pattern exists for all hurricanes – Rita, Ivan etc.
Passing interest perhaps, no need to rush and change your name, but more than anything it suggests how easily our brain, master organ as it is, may be influenced by unexpected and unknown forces.