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Monogrammic Determinism?

Morrison, Stilian; Smith, Gary PhD

doi: 10.1097/01.psy.0000181283.51771.8a
Original Articles

Objective: Attempt to replicate a report that people whose names have positive initials (such as ACE or VIP) live much longer than do people with negative initials (such as PIG or DIE). The primary analysis in the original 1969 to 1995 study grouped decedents by year of death; however, average-age-at-death calculations for decedents grouped in this way can be misleading if the frequency of initials changes over time. Grouping the decedents by birth year solves this problem and provides a more natural test of whether there is a statistical relationship between initials and longevity.

Methods: The California Department of Health Services mortality database was used to identify the birth year and age at death of decedents with positive or negative initials, as defined by the original study and as chosen by a new survey.

Results: There is no substantial or statistically significant relationship between either set of initials and longevity when decedents are grouped by birth year, either for the original study period 1969 to 1995 or for the longer period 1905 to 2003.

Conclusion: These data do not indicate that mortality is affected by one’s initials.

AAD = average age at death.

From the Department of Economics, Pomona College, Claremont, California.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Gary Smith, Pomona College, Claremont, CA 91711. E-mail:

Received for publication November 23, 2004; revision received May 31, 2005.

Copyright © 2005 by American Psychosomatic Society
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