Name Impression Influence on Employment Opportunities
Tracy M. Sysk
Saint Leo University
A person’s name has been found to have a significant influence on other’s perception of their characteristics. This may be due to the impact of first impression phenomenon that can occur such as in the case of seeing a name on a resume. An individual with a perceivably attractive name may be more apt to gain employment than one with a less desirable name (Gueguen & Pascual, 2011). Upon first impression, judgments are made about personality traits such as friendliness, attractiveness, intelligence, and honesty or even reliability (Mahrabian, 200I; Steel & Smithwick, 1989; Aura ...view middle of the document...
They randomly selected nearly 200 university students in a mock voting contest to rate beauty queens. The participants were exposed to six images that were preselected for equal physical attractiveness and then half were given likeable names and the others were given less likeable names. As per their hypothesis, the name had a significant consequence on physical attraction perceptions: Girls with attractive names were given nearly three times the votes as were the images with less attractive names. If pageant contestants may be demoted due to name perception, then how may name impressions affect people in other ways?
In a study on low socio-economic individuals, Gueguen & Pascual (2011) randomly extracted 100 names of persons on welfare whose information was stored in a database of an employment agency. These individuals were then given an opportunity to interview for employment. They compared interview results on the variables of age, gender and ethnicity. Age and ethnicity had no significant influence on the outcome of job obtainment for the applicants. The last stage of their examination looked at name impression impact and produced their predicted outcome as name likeability was strongly related to a person having been hired. They found no significant difference or influence on employment outcome due to ethnicity or age; possibly due to the population sample being limited to a certain socioeconomic group. However, it has been noted globally that a name indicating ethnicity may negatively impact job outlooks (Riach & Rich, 1991; Leo & Manger, 2011). Likewise, the impact of one’s name was found by Bertrand & Mullainathan (2004) to carry a significant influence due to ethnicity. They discovered that a fictitious woman with a name such as Emily has a 50% greater chance of getting an interview than does one with a name of Lakisha.
In the famous Bertrand & Mullainathan (2004) field study, local ads for employment in Boston and Chicago were sent spurious resumes with notably White names, and notably African-American names. A typically White name like Greg only needed ten resumes out in the field in order to obtain at least one response compared to fifteen for a typically African-American name like Jamal. A note of interest here is that the cities where this study was took place are located in the northern region of the US where the north compared to the south is commonly considered to be less racially biased. They also discovered that there was not a significant difference between government sectors that were actually listed as Equal Opportunity Employers compared to private sectors that were not.
Aura & Hess, (2008) examined the overall impact of a person’s first name. Their results showed that when a person’s name indicated ethnicity, that it was strongly associated with a lower socio-economic status than non-ethnic named persons. This included the perception of potential labor productivity attached to a person due to...