Do Bad Monograms Spell the End?
Monograms have no connection to mortality, according to a new study contradicting earlier evidence that having a "bad" monogram, such as PIG or ZIT, makes one likely to die at a younger age than someone blessed with initials such as ACE, WOW or JOY.
The new study in the current issue of Psychosomatic Medicine looked at California death records from 1905 to 2005 to confirm whether a statistical relationship existed between initials and longevity.
Scientists Stilian Morrison and Gary Smith asked a group of students and faculty at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif., to rank the initials that they would be most and least happy to have.
The top positive initials in descending order were ACE, ICE, JOY, VIP, CEO, GEM, FLY, FOX, HIP, WIT and WIN.
The top negative initials included KKK, DIE, ZIT, PIG, DUM, RAT, SOB, GAS, BAD, HOR, BUM and SIN.
The scientists analyzed mortality data of white, non-Hispanic people who died from 1960 to 2003 and for all races from 1905 to 1959. They looked at a total of 4,201 males with positive initials, 6,485 males with negatives initials, 2,798 females with positive initials and 4,533 females with negative initials.
Grouping the people by year of birth, the scientists compared average age of death. Males with negative initials lived slightly longer, on average, then those with positive initials, and the reverse was true of females, though neither difference was statistically significant.
The 1999 study, reported in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, had found that males with positive initials lived 4.5 more years than a control group of males with neutral initials, while males with negative initials live 2.8 fewer years. The earlier study had also found that females with positive initials lived 3.4 more years than those in the neutral group.
This time around, evidence failed to support that theory that monogram equals destiny. Morrison and Smith attribute the new findings to grouping records by year of birth, rather than by year of death, which they say can be misleading if the frequency of specific initial choices changes over time.
The Pomona scientists undertook this work because the "the reported effects at average age of death [of the first study] were implausibly large," says Smith. "It shouldn't be out there that if you give kids the initials 'LUV,' they'll live 7 years longer."
One problem with making such comparisons is how language usage and slang expressions change over time; 50 years ago, ICE and FLY were not considered compliments.
Pamela Redmond Satran, baby-name book author, says, "Every conventional naming book gives the guideline, 'Don't forget to look at the initials.'
"Even if the second study contradicts the first, and having bad initials is not going to shorten your life span, it could make what there is of your life less pleasant," Satran says.
"And who wants to foist that on innocent children?
Source: Center for advancement of health