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Career

Is your name holding you back from getting jobs?

A landmark study has found that people with unusual or difficult-to-pronounce names are less likely to succeed at work.

A landmark study has found that people with unusual or difficult-to-pronounce names are less likely to succeed at work or be elected to political office.
Researchers from the University of Melbourne joined forces with those from New York University's Stern School of Business to investigate the how names affect success.
They found that having a simple, easy-to-pronounce name was a distinct advantage in the workplace, likely to lead to promotion and increased popularity.
The first stage of the study was a mock political election, where people were asked to choose from a selection of candidates with Anglo, Asian, Western and Eastern European names.
The results showed that people were more likely to choose the simplest names, regardless of what nationality they were.
"Research findings revealed that the effect is not due merely to the length of a name or how foreign-sounding or unusual it is, but rather how easy it is to pronounce," study leader Dr Simon Laham from the University of Melbourne said.
In the second stage of the research, Dr Adam Alter from New York University studied 500 first and last names of US lawyers.
He found that those with the most pronounceable names were promoted faster than their unusually-named counterparts, even though they had comparable skills and experience.
The researchers hope their findings will be used to make workplaces fairer.
"People simply aren't aware of the subtle impact that names can have on their judgments," Dr Alter said.
"It's important to appreciate the subtle biases that shape our choices and judgments about others. Such an appreciation may help us de-bias our thinking, leading to fairer, more objective treatment of others."
The study — which in the first of its kind — was published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology in 2012.

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