Why George, a geologist from Georgia married Georgina

Your sub-conscious will nudge you toward careers, lovers, historical figures, purchases and places to live for the most trivial of reasons: that they share letters with your name or numbers with your birthday.

And the  amazing thing is that you will make up reasons after the event to explain your actions.

For example:

You are disproportionately likely to marry someone whose first or last name resembles yours.

(Researchers trawled through heaps of public records to establish this)







You are more likely to want products whose names are similar to yours.

(Experiments with tea, biscuits and candy have demonstrated this. In a typical experiment participants Sandra and Larry were offered two new invented brands of tea: Sanya and Larin. Sandra believed that Sanya tested better while Larry preferred the taste of Larin. The tea came from the same pot)

Exhaustive studies of professional directories show that:

  • People with names like Denis and Denise are statistically over-represented in the dental industry.
  • Laura and Lawrence are over-represented in law.
  • George and Georgina are over-represented in geology.
  • People whose surnames include doc, dok and med are over-represented in the medical profession.

Psychologists call this implicit egotism. We love ourselves so much that our powerful sub-conscious seeks out and warms to reflections of ourself. Meanwhile the poor conscious brain scrambles to try and explain our decisions : “Er, Larin tasted better than Sanya”.

Self-love will even spill over and shine a fond light on another person’s life history  provided that on some trivial basis that person resembles you. Here’s another experiment:

University students were given a particularly negative story to read about Rasputin, the crazy Russian Monk who made his name in a Boney M song. The stories provided to half the students were secretly rigged so they appeared to share a birth date with Rasputin. And what do you know? Those who appeared to share a birthdate all thought Rasputin was a much nicer and sympathetic character than the other half.

Your implicit egotism will even try to influence where you live.

Absurd as it sounds, people with birthdays on 2nd of Feb are statistically more likely to move to a city with a name that features the concept of “two” in it.

Which explains why there are more people born on 2/2 than there ought to be in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. People born on 3/3 are disproportionately represented in Three Forks, Montana . The same is true in Six Mile, Carolina and every other city that the researchers tested.

Incidentally, the reason I’m writing this is I have a friend who was born on 11th November and was trying to predict where she might move to. Currently she lives in London but maybe she just hasn’t found a town with the number 11 in it.

Implicit egotism won’t make decisions for you, but it will gently push you in a direction you are interested in. I find it fascinating because these experiments show again how our decision-making is driven by factors that we are unaware of. We just see the tip of the iceberg.

Alas, my name is Rich. And it ain’t working for me.