Link between people's initials and how long they live. I'm not convinced.

I recently read that people with initials that spelled out “positive” words, such as ACE, WIN, WOW, and VIP, on average, lived longer than those with “negative” initial-words, such as RAT, BUM, SAD, and DUD.

The researchers, based out of California (but left unnamed in the article), stated that:

They speculated that bad initials were irritants, or stressors, which over the course of a person’s life can add up and contribute to health problems.

I just don’t see how one’s initials can have a relatively large impact (years) on one’s life span. How often do we write our initials? How often do we see our initials written out? To how many people are we known to by our initials?

And what about initial-words that have other meanings, such as MEH? Will this person be more prone to apathy?

How does the “self-fulfilling prophecy”* tie into all this?

I feel that this small facet of one’s life is so minuscule that it couldn’t possibly have any significant affect on one’s lifespan.

*Based on school of thought “Symbolic Interactionism.” In a nutshell, states that if you are called or referred to as something, you will begin to act that way. For example, labeling minor delinquent youngsters as criminal. These youngsters would often take on board the label, indulge in crime more readily and become actors in the ‘self-fulfilling prophecy.’

Huh, and here I would think it would be related to the kind of people who would ensure their children had such initials.

Exactly. The kinds of parents who think about checking whether a child’s initials spell out “RAT” or some other weird word are IMO likely, on the whole, to be better at parenting than those who do not.

I’ve never had to name a child, but the initials of the newborn are probably overlooked at the time. I think that the actual name is given a lot of thought, and whether the initials spell out a word would be a mere coincidence and pleasant (or unpleasant) surprise.

This thread would not be complete without a shout out to All in the Family.

Gloria: “See Daddy? We didn’t forget about you. We thought we’d use both grandfather’s names and call him Stanislaus Archibald Stivic.”

Archie: “How come you didn’t think of the other way around? Archibald Stanislaus Stivic?”

Gloria: “Awww, Daddy, you wouldn’t want your grandchild to have those initials.”
When we named our little one, the initials did get some thought, but only in a negative way. A “bad” set of initials would be discarded, but there was little thought to having a “good” set.

Do you have a link to the study (apologies if I missed it)? How did those with nonsensical acronyms do? Is there any effect beyond longevity – will my (hypothetical) son, Frederick Uther Clark Kevin, get more tail than his brother, Nicholas Edward Rick Dean? Will the latter have more of an interest in science and minute trivia of obscure franchises? How about names that already have an (obvious) meaning – are Virginias more chaste on average? One would think that the effect, if genuine, should be more pronounced if the name just flat out spells it out, rather than having to fiddle with acronyms (for instance, I never before even noticed that my initials are homophone to ‘yes’, and while I like to think I’m a mostly agreeable chap, I’m not really a yes man).

My 2 year old’s initials are MLB.

So screw saving for retirement; when I get old I’m going to live with my millionaire athlete son!

I changed my name. Which initials matter?

It was a little tidbit found in Parade Magazine this past Sunday. Here’s a link. Pertinent information is located in #5 on the list.

Upon further investigation, it appears that since the California study (mentioned in the Parade article) has been debunked… BACK IN 2005. Now, I do not view Parade Magazine to be the premier scientific journal of our time, but I would have thought that whoever composed this would have done a bit more research (as I should have before posting this, however certain aspects of the study may still be up for debate).

Here is the article, Do Your Initials Spell Earlier Death? Pomona College Study Debunks Earlier Findings.

The new findings state that:

The researchers go on to say:

The results are still based on a small sample, though (less than 15,000 people), but it seems one’s initials are pretty moot when predicting health and lifespan.

I wonder about Robert Irving Palmer.

Thanks for those links; at least it seems like your earlier scepticism has been confirmed.

Was that Laura Palmer’s dad?

Ok, so there was another study conducted that studied the correlation between the companies that people worked for and their initials, found here.

The authors concluded that they “have demonstrated that people are more likely to work for companies with initials matching their own than to work for companies with other initials.”

The researchers noted that “for about one in nine people whose initials matched their company’s initial, choice of employer seems to have been influenced by the fact that the letters matched.”

Could it be that people with more common initials just so happen to work for companies that also have common initials? Apparently not, because “this effect occurred with every letter of the alphabet, but was more apparent for rarer initials.”

I can’t believe people would take time to study this kind of thing.

True story: When my uncle was born, my grandparents wanted to name him Kinky Alger Kozlowski.* When he was taken to be baptized (they’re Catholic), the priest balked, saying that the child must have a saint’s name, or a variation of a saint’s name. My grandfather, accustomed to getting his way in all things, proposed changing my uncle’s name to…

Kinky Kevin Kozlowski.

Kinky Alger it was, and ever so shall be.

*OK, the name is fictitious to protect his privacy, but the initials are true.

This is the same magazine that published a citeless filler blurb claiming that “a study” showed that the average number of farts produced in a day was ten. How the hell do you develop a methodology for studying that?

It did lead to the family phrase “feeling above average”.

So if you wind up with G.O.D. you’ll never die?


I read that Bob Dylan was at first going to name his son Seth Abraham. But then he realized that with the last name Dylan the initials would spell out “SAD.” So he added another name, and the result was Seth Abraham Isaac Dylan.

Mine are JPG. Clearly I’m cut out for the computer industry, or possibly as a graphic designer.

But how long will I live?

It is up to Bill Gates.

never mind