Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Initial Fascination: H is for Heath Bars, Human Resources, and Happiness

Is it a coincidence that the name of one of my favorite candy bars is the same as the first five letters of my first name? Or that I'm moving into the field of Human Resources? Or that I'm simply fascinated with the exploration of individual happiness?

Perhaps not. Intrigued by research that there are more dentists named Dennis than those of any other name, researchers at Northwestern's Kellogg Business School explored the links between brands and individuals' first initials. The findings? Our love for our initials (which actually reflects a love of ourselves) drives us to consume brands that share our first initial. And get this. We don't just like the brand names, but we actually like the products more ... the taste, the look, the style. Our love for ourselves actually alters our experiences of products. A bit egotistical, aren't we? Well, not ALL the time, according to Northwestern researchers. In the theory of Name-Letter Branding, these preferences arise when we experience a strong need for a product (e.g. we're really hungry) or we need to boost our self-esteem (e.g. we're stressed out).

These findings bring to mind a study I read a while back about first initials and grades. (A similar reference here.) Essentially, Allisons and Andys love getting As, while Claras and Charlies don't mind getting Cs. I feel a bit sorry for the Fionas and Franks. An affection for Fs might not be good in school.

So, I'm left wondering what I should do with this information (aside from brainstorming cute A names for my future children). When I'm craving a Heath Bar or some Hunan food (also a fave), should I 'think rationally' and just consume something else? Should I try to overcome this bias? Actually, it's funny... this study makes me a bit more affectionate toward the letter H. Hey, if I can boost my self-esteem while eating chocolate, why not?

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