Format

Send to

Choose Destination
J Psychosom Res. 1999 Sep;47(3):241-54.

What's in a name: mortality and the power of symbols.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego 92093-0109, USA. nicko@ucsd.edu

Abstract

One's attitude about oneself, and the treatment one receives from others, might be affected, in some small but measurable way, by stigmatic or salutary labeling due to one's name. If names affect attitudes and attitudes affect longevity, then individuals with "positive" initials (e.g., A.C.E., V.I.P.) might live longer than those with "negative" initials (e.g., P.I.G., D.I.E.). Using California death certificates, 1969-1995, we isolated 2287 male decedents with "negative" initials and 1200 with "positive" initials. Males with positive initials live 4.48 years longer (p<0.0001), whereas males with negative initials die 2.80 years younger (p<0.0001) than matched controls. The longevity effects are smaller for females, with an increase of 3.36 years for the positive group (p<0.0001) and no decrease for the negative. Positive initials are associated with shifts away from causes of death with obvious psychological components (such as suicides and accidents), whereas negative initials are associated with shifts toward these causes. However, nearly all disease categories display an increase in longevity for the positive group and a decrease for the negative group. These findings cannot be explained by the effects of death cohort artifacts, gender, race, year of death, socioeconomic status, or parental neglect.

PMID:
10576473
DOI:
10.1016/s0022-3999(99)00035-5
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center