Sunday, September 04, 2011

Last-Name effect – An interesting theory.

Last-Name effect – everyone whose last name begins with some of the last letters of the alphabet were last at everything in school, and later, as adults, they are buying everything they can get their hands on because of fear that supplies will disappear. 

According to the new study, people whose last name begins with the last letter of the alphabet (Z) are making the fastest decisions when it comes to shopping. What could explain this weird phenomenon, which the authors of this theory called “last-name effect”? Here is an interesting explanation.

American obsession with alphabetical order, especially in the education system, often places those whose last name begins with a letter “Z” at the end of the line, causing different kind of suffering in life of those persons. For example – they are always last in line at the canteen and the other kids are taking all the chocolate milk before them…also, in most cases, they are placed in the last rows in the classroom, so they have to put a great effort to get the attention of teachers. Later in life of those persons, as soon as they see a product that is discounted (or if someone offers them something to buy) they are immediately buying them because they have a fear that the supplies will disappear. In those moments, they finally have “chocolate milk” within their reach.

For years, simply because of your name, you've received inequitable treatment. So when you get to exercise control, you seize on opportunity. It's a coping strategy, and over time it becomes a natural way to respond” – explains Kurt Carlson, an assistant professor at Georgetown's McDonough School of Business and a co-author of the paper on this subject.

He and Jacqueline Conard, an assistant professor at the Massey Graduate School of Business at Belmont University, have uncovered the “last-name effect” through an experiment.

They selected a group of students and send them an e-mail, offering them free tickets to a basketball game.  Within that e-mail, they highlighted that the offer is limited. The average response time of people whose last names begins with some of the last nine letters of the alphabet (from R to Z) was 19.38 minutes. Those whose last name begins with some of the first nine letters of the alphabet had an average response time of 20.08 minutes, which is a statistically significant difference.

These results drove “Time” journalist Sean Gregory to verify this theory. He took the list of workers and found Paul Zelinski, a production director for “Time” and “Sports Illustrated” for kids. Zelinski told him that he spent many days in the back of the class as a student in Brooklyn Catholic schools.

In grammar school, I didn't mind, because there was this girl next to me who was cute. But in high school, it stunk. I couldn't see over the taller guys in front of me” – said Zelinski.

He claims that “last-name effect” makes sense. For example, he is always looking to make a quick agreement on a deal, and he recently bought a car over the internet for a good price. However, he is still afraid that he will be on the fringe. When he goes to watch a game, he often arrives two hours earlier, just to grab the best seat and have a good view of a game.

I don't know if that has to do with being Zelinski or being Polish. I might have to go into therapy to find out.” – Zelinski said.

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