London: A surname can
influence one's career choices. Scientists are exploring a new
theory on how people are drawn to professions based on their
The concept has a new name, nominative determinism, to explain why
it occurs. The journal New Scientist coined the term after
observing that the subject matter of a series of science books and
articles bore relevance to the authors' surnames.
John Hoyland, editor of the journal said: "A reader wrote in to
tell me that they had come across a paper on incontinence in the
British Journal of Urology which was written by J.W. Splatt and D.
Weedon," according to the Telegraph.
"I had noticed, as it happens, on the same day in the office, a
book on the Arctic called 'Pole Positions: The Polar Regions and
the Future of the Planet', by Daniel Snowman. These two things
went together in my mind and I thought there's something going on
here," said Hoyland.
Research is now being undertaken in search of an explanation for
the phenomenon. A study has concluded that people are
disproportionately likely to choose careers whose labels resemble
their names, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
The study cites the disproportionate number of dentists called
Denise or Dennis as an example of the trend.
Authors Brett Pelham, Matthew Mirenberg and John Jones concluded
that the phenomenon occurs because people prefer things that are
connected to the self (for example, the letters in one's name).
However, the journal New Scientist points out that it is more
difficult to explain examples of people who have unfortunate
surnames in relation to their jobs such as doctors called Pain or
consultant urologist named Nicholas Burns-Cox.