Friday, February 21, 2014

the seven thousand names of wah

We've talked about nominative determinism in this journal a number of times.

As a recap this is mainly a pseudo-scientific bit of psychologist humour, the origin is often attributed to Carl Jung who said to have noted the 'quite gross coincidence between a man's name and his peculiarities or profession.'

Jung kept the gag going by noting the phenomenon among psychologists, including himself:

"Herr Freud (Joy) champions the pleasure principle, Herr Adler (Eagle) the will to power, Herr Jung (Young) the idea of rebirth…"

The label itself is reported to have been coined in 1994 by science mag New Scientist, and explained thus:

'We recently came across a new book, Pole Positions - The Polar Regions and the Future of the Planet, by Daniel Snowman. Then, a couple of weeks later, we received a copy of London Under London - A Subterranean Guide, one of the authors of which is Richard Trench. So it was interesting to see Jen Hunt of the University of Manchester stating in the October issue of The Psychologist: "Authors gravitate to the area of research which fits their surname." Hunt's example is an article on incontinence in the British Journal of Urology by A. J. Splatt and D. Weedon.'

Fast forward to this week and a new University of British Columbia study featured in Science Daily finds that 'we prefer voices that are similar to our own because they convey a soothing sense of community and social belongingness'.

This comes as no surprise, given that we know about the 'liking' principle in the psychology of persuasion.

People prefer to say yes to someone they like, and we like people who are similar to us.

Sharing something in common before you start negotiating is the classic tactic.

And as Kahneman noted 'good mood and cognitive ease are the human equivalents of assessments of safety and familiarity'.

And familiarity breeds liking.

Anyway, after perusing the report, which also concludes 'the findings indicate that our preference for voices...are about fitting in to our social groups' we were unsurprised to note that the authors name was Molly Babel.

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