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Drunk Tank Pink

And Other Unexpected Forces that Shape How We Think, Feel, and Behave

By Adam Alter
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Drunk Tank Pink: And Other Unexpected Forces that Shape How We Think, Feel, and Behave by Adam Alter

Drunk Tank Pink probes the hidden psychological and social influences that shape the way we see, think, feel, and act in the world.

This is a Blinkist staff pick

“I am always interested in the subtle things that shape people’s behavior. From pink prison cells to your initials, these blinks present astounding facts on what influences the human mind.”

– Laura, German Editorial Lead at Blinkist

Key idea 1 of 10

Your name influences the life you lead by triggering strong mental associations in others.

Guess how many baby “Adolfs” there have been since the Second World War? Hardly any? You’re right.

Parents tend to steer away from names that have strong associations with negative concepts. And the world will forever associate any dear little “Adolf” with right-wing dictatorship.

Besides concepts, we also associate names with demographic information. This means that you can guess a person’s approximate age, gender, ethnicity and even social status from his or her name.

For instance, most people would presume that Dorothy is a white female, Fernanda is Hispanic, and Aaliyah is black.

Studies have even revealed a strong relationship between a mother’s education and the names she chooses for her children. For example, white boys named Sander are much more likely to have mothers who finished college than white boys named Bobby.

What’s more, names even have the power to influence important life outcomes.

For instance, a study showed that job applicants with white names (Emily, Anne, Brad) receive callbacks 50 percent more often than applicants with black names (Aisha, Kenya, Jamal), though their applications were equally strong. This indicates, disturbingly, that names can lead to racial discrimination and shape the life outcomes of the name-bearer.

So we know that our names affect how other people see us, but do they also influence our own behavior?

Most definitely!

Psychologist Jozef Nuttin demonstrated that people like the letters in their own name so much, that they tend to donate more often and more handsomely to causes that share their initials. This meant that after Hurricane Katrina left New Orleans in ruins in 2005, charitable donations from people whose names began with K increased by 150 percent.

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