Why Susie sells seashells by the seashore: implicit egotism and major life decisions

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2002 Apr;82(4):469-87.


Because most people possess positive associations about themselves, most people prefer things that are connected to the self (e.g., the letters in one's name). The authors refer to such preferences as implicit egotism. Ten studies assessed the role of implicit egotism in 2 major life decisions: where people choose to live and what people choose to do for a living. Studies 1-5 showed that people are disproportionately likely to live in places whose names resemble their own first or last names (e.g., people named Louis are disproportionately likely to live in St. Louis). Study 6 extended this finding to birthday number preferences. People were disproportionately likely to live in cities whose names began with their birthday numbers (e.g., Two Harbors, MN). Studies 7-10 suggested that people disproportionately choose careers whose labels resemble their names (e.g., people named Dennis or Denise are overrepresented among dentists). Implicit egotism appears to influence major life decisions. This idea stands in sharp contrast to many models of rational choice and attests to the importance of understanding implicit beliefs.

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Career Choice*
  • Decision Making*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Names*
  • Population Dynamics
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Self Concept*
  • Self-Assessment
  • Social Behavior
  • Unconscious, Psychology*
  • United States