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How your name affects your credibility

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A new study published by PLOS ONE has revealed there’s more to a name than meets the eye.

The report found people with names which are hard to pronounce were deemed less trust-worthy and less reliable, after participants in the study were asked to read statements from international students with made up names.

The statements – which included things like “giraffes are the only mammals which cannot jump” – from the ‘students’ with easy to pronounce names were overall considered to be more accurate, regardless of whether the statement provided was actually true.

“Easy names were evaluated as more familiar, less risky and less dangerous. This effect of pronounceability bolsters earlier demonstrations that both things and people with easier to pronounce names are evaluated more positively,” the report said.

“This data pattern demonstrates that the pronounceability of names extends beyond judgments tied to names themselves, and can influence judgments of temporally associated information.”

So what does this mean when it comes to the recruitment process? A candidate’s name is often the first thing an HR manager or employer reads when going through a resume.

If the study’s findings are anything to go by, hiring managers will have to be aware of unconscious bias when recruiting.

Particularly in a country like Singapore, where both local and foreign talent can posses names which don’t exactly roll off the tongue easily, those looking for new hires need to be more careful about focusing on merit, rather than gut feeling.

Have you struggled with a candidate’s name or came across an experience where it affected the interview process? Share your comments with us below.

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Sabrina Zolkifi
Deputy editor
Human Resources Magazine Singapore

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