Thursday, 6 June 2013

The [letters] name effect



I wrote about this effect more than a decade ago, but I didn’t publish it on any website / blog / social media (did such things even exist back then?) or in anything remotely like a journal or magazine. I’m just saying it wasn’t real until now, ok?

I first noticed the [letters] name effect when I was a student of cognitive psychology.

oh… those were the days…

(never understood the purpose of that false memory study I participated in)

It is a curious phenomenon:

  1. When specific letters are in front of a speakers name, like PhD, dr. or prof. this is an excuse for others to stop thinking.
  2. Even more worrisome, the effect generalises to people who also have letters in front of their name.
  3. This is however moderated by the name-letter effect (not to be confused with the [letters] name effect): People with letters in front of their name only stop thinking when the letters of the speaker are the same as their own letters. If they are different, they grow deaf and do not listen at all.

It’s a kind of bi-directional multiplicative interaction thing, with information and brain areas involved. Encoding too. Lots of encoding.

That is when I decided: Before I get those letters in front my name I have to be very very certain about what it is I am saying. And perhaps invest in a PA system.

That takes about 10 years.