3Your Name Can Influence Your Life Choices
Let's say you live in Milwaukee. Look up how many people named Mildred live in the city. Chances are you'll find an overrepresentation. Statistically speaking, the same thing is likely to happen with Jacks in Jacksonville, Virgils in Virginia, and Freds in Fresno. Why? It appears that people move to places similar to their own names. And if you think that's stupid, science shows that it's just the beginning.
"Ahmed Robberty, why do you keep doing this?"
For instance, your name also affects your political stance by subtly altering your voting behavior: In the 2000 election, people whose last names started with a B were more likely to vote for Bush, while Al Gore profited from the G people. But that's just all those misinformed yokels who vote in elections, right? Aren't half those people just flipping a coin anyway? Well, you find it among investors on Wall Street, too -- the name-letter effect scoffs at your puny efforts to look into actual profitability, gently nudging you toward companies that sound similar to your name (like if your name is Michel, you're more likely to purchase Michelin).
"I don't know about this, Stealy Dan."
Looking for a job? The company you prefer might just share initials with you, and the first letter of your name can determine your career path. There is a statistical overabundance of dentists whose first names start with D and lawyers with names like Larry and Laura. What the hell? Are people just ... stupid?
The theory is that this is all because our brains are selfish dicks that think the bits of the alphabet that start up our names are somehow better letters. Some psychologists believe it's linked to a phenomenon called implicit egotism: We respond more favorably to anything that reminds us of ourselves. No matter how illogical and arbitrary.
Chuck Dickerson and his collection of Charlie Daniels CDs.
2Hand Gestures Can Manipulate You
We previously pointed out that if you're right-handed, you instinctively prefer things that are on your right, and vice versa. The theory is that, while we think with our brains, we use our hands to interact with the world, so the thinking part of your brain gets tricked into liking things that happen to be within reach of the hand you prefer to use. Elsewhere, we mentioned that you're more likely to remember facts if you associate them with a hand gesture, which is probably why some people are so animated with their hands when trying to recount a story. But how far does this weird hand-brain connection go? Could, say, other people use hand gestures to manipulate you without you knowing it?
You already know that the answer is yes.
The universal sign for "Hey, dumbass, my fucking wine is almost gone. You piece of shit."
Let's say you're an eyewitness to a bank heist. The cops come up to you and ask you to describe the guy. The officer says, "Did he have a beard?" And he does that thing that some people do, gesturing at his own chin as if you somehow didn't know what a beard was and needed him to physically demonstrate. And in that moment you think, "Yeah ... I believe he did have a beard."
Guess what: That guy's hand gesture just programmed your memory.
The University of Hertfordshire did a series of tests where they interviewed participants about a video they had watched. While asking questions, the researchers deliberately made misleading gestures, like stroking their chin to suggest a beard or touching their wrist to indicate a watch. The test subjects were three times more likely to believe that the guy in the video had a beard if the interviewer pretended to stroke his nonexistent goatee while asking about it. These weren't mouth farts where you say "bearded" despite thinking "clean shaven," either. The gesture actually brainwashed the subjects into honestly believing that the guy had a beard.
And yes, when a politician or lawyer stands up and makes those hand gestures to drive home his point (pointing at the audience, slapping his palm with his fist), that totally works. There are detailed guides on what exactly you should be doing with your hands if you want the audience to buy what you're selling. That's why a president can't simply say, "I've got your cruise missile right here" -- he needs to actually gesture toward his crotch to get the full effect.
"No, it's important that you understand that I wish for you to literally go fuck yourself. Twice."