"Life-Extension" Study?

Freespeak (f-prime@activist.com)
Sun, 29 Mar 1998 10:16:28 -0700

The following article recently appeared under the

Associated Press

"The argument is that there's some
psychological symbolic factor that
can exert its impact cumulatively
over the years."
-- Nicholas Christenfeld, Psychologist

NEW ORLEANS - Maybe names really will hurt you. People with
initials such as ACE or GOD are likely to live longer than
those whose names spell out words like APE, DUD, RAT or PIG,
a study suggests.

The study, conducted by researchers from the University
of California at San Diego, looked at 27 years' worth of
California death certificates.

People with monograms such as JOY or WOW had a better chance
of living longer -- and were less likely to commit suicide or
die in an accident -- than those with neutral or meaningless
initials such as JAY or WLW, or those named, say, BUM or UGH,
said psychologist Nicholas Christenfeld.

He presented his findings Friday at a meeting in New Orleans
of the Society of Behavioral Medicine.

"The argument is that there's some psychological symbolic
factor that can exert its impact cumulatively over the
years. You get teased at school, wonder what your parents
thought of you -- maybe fate is out to get you -- but
at every stage it's a little tiny depressant to be called
PIG, or a little tiny boost to your esteem to be called
ACE or WOW," he said in an interview. "All we can do is
look at the final outcome."

The findings do seem to support the idea that liking your
name and liking yourself may be linked, and that parents
should be sensitive when naming children, said Penelope
Wasson Dralle, a professor in LSU Medical Center's
psychiatry department.

"If people tend to look at your name and look up at you
and laugh, you're sort of at a disadvantage," she said.
But, she warned, the study "really doesn't glve us any
cause and effects."

The study looked at the 5 million or so people who died
in California from 1969 through 1997.

Concentrating on men because marriage generally doesn't
change their initials, the researchers found 2,287 men
with initials that were deemed plainly negative, such
as ILL or DED. An additional 1,200 spelled or came close
to words considered indisputably positive: WIN and VIP,
for example. The researchers found 11 "good" sets of
initials, and 19 "bad" ones.

"Neutral" words and those that had both bad and good
meanings were tossed from the list. So DAM and WET
didn't make it. Nor did RAY and SUN.

All in all, men with WINning initials lived 4.48 years
longer than a control group of people with neutral or
ambiguous monograms, while DUDs, ASSes and such died
an average of 2.8 years earlier than a control group.

The researchers did not compare the good and bad groups
directly, instead comparing each to separate control

Six suicides were reported among the 1,200 men in the
good group, vs. 79 among the 2,287 men in the bad group.
That works out to half a percent vs. 3.5 percent. There
were 31 accidental deaths -- 2.5 percent -- in the good
group vs. 138, or 6 percent, in the bad group.

"The notion being that accidents aren't really accidents
-- whether deliberate or not, if you think less of yourself,
you may be more likely to drive your car into a bridge
abutment," Christenfeld said.

"The [one] who knows what freedom is will find a way to be free."
-- Robert LeFevre
"We are free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it."
-- William Faulkner
"The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed."
-- Steve Biko
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