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It's Not You. It's the Alphabet.

Posted April 01, 2017 12:00 AM by M-ReeD
Pathfinder Tags: Academics behavior

Have you been looking for an explanation for your earlier-in-life successes or failures? Well, fear not! Researchers at the University of Colorado have an explanation for you, and it has little to do with you and everything to do with the alphabet.

For those of you blessed with surnames like “Anderson” or” Bailey,” good fortune has smiled upon you. Professor Jeffrey Zax and graduate student Alexander Cauley (both of the University of Colorado) are suggesting that where your last name falls in the alphabet might predict your success (or failure) in life.

According to Zax and Cauley, students whose surnames fall toward the end of the alphabet are less noticeable to their teachers, thereby being less likely to be labeled as “outstanding” students despite actual performance.

The phenomenon, known as alphabetism, according to the researchers, begins in school where almost everything is structured by the alphabet (i.e., where you sit, homeroom, scheduling, roll call, etc.) and follows you into adulthood.

According to the research, later-in-life disparities appear for those with last names later in the alphabet being less likely to pursue higher education and more likely to experience lackluster first jobs than their alphabetically superior counterparts.

The research is based on a longitudinal study of 3,281 males from Wisconsin periodically from the time they graduated high school in 1957 until 2011. The participants were looked at in sets, measured against other participants who were nearly identical in academic performance and IQ. The only difference between the participants was where their names fell alphabetically.

According to the findings, if a participant’s last name started with a C, they were 10% more likely to be considered an “outstanding student” compared with someone whose last name, despite similar academic performance, appeared later in the alphabet.

So, if there is any merit to this study and your last name happens to be Williams or, interestingly enough, Zax, have you been forever screwed by the alphabet?

The good news for the Williamses and Zaxes of the world: This extra attention both as a student and early in your career fades with time and with the participant’s ability to better demonstrate the characteristics of a good employee. It is not a life-long affliction. Researchers believe that the phenomenon disappears after a person is in their mid-30s.

So while the study has its interesting points, keep in mind that it was spearheaded by a person whose last name begins with the letter “Z.”

Have you been victimized by alphabetization?

Image credit:

tracen916 / CC BY-SA 2.0

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#1

Re: It's Not You. It's the Alphabet.

04/01/2017 3:58 AM

What's this some new form of Astrology?

What name were you born under? You should change it immediately to Abba Abercrombie....and get your nose fixed....

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#2
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Re: It's Not You. It's the Alphabet.

04/01/2017 5:16 AM

With the last name "Eagle" I thought you what be smart nuff to know the troof when it's presented in a scientific manner.

wow

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#4
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Re: It's Not You. It's the Alphabet.

04/01/2017 4:44 PM

Yes, but now the word contains two "s's" (wink,wink).

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#3

Re: It's Not You. It's the Alphabet.

04/01/2017 11:06 AM

I can remember being seated alphabetically in grade school. (Whenever I meet a couple whose last names fall close together in the alphabet, I wonder if they met in school.)

Maybe Professor Zax got tired of sitting in the back corner of the classroom.

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#5
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Re: It's Not You. It's the Alphabet.

04/01/2017 4:57 PM

As a "W" I liked sitting near the back of the class because I could do the homework assignment while the teacher taught and not get caught. That way, by the end of the class I was done with the next day's assignment and never had to take any books home or waste time at home doing homework.

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#6
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Re: It's Not You. It's the Alphabet.

04/01/2017 8:13 PM

My 8th-year teacher seated us in order of our GPA, the students with highest grade-point average sat nearest the door so we could be the first to exit his classroom when the bell rang. For those whose grades tied he seated them in reverse alphabetical order. An interesting man and a bit eccentric.

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Re: It's Not You. It's the Alphabet.

04/01/2017 9:07 PM

Of course these days, he would be reprimanded or fired for hurting the feelings of the students with lower GPA's by being able to identify who didn't perform as well by virtue of their seat in the classroom. I could see some sensitivity training in that man's future.

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#8
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Re: It's Not You. It's the Alphabet.

04/01/2017 9:56 PM

Yeah, he probably would benefit. He retired years ago. Last I heard - some 30 years ago - he was a meter-reader for the local utility and living in a converted motel. I reckon he's probably dead now.

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#11
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Re: It's Not You. It's the Alphabet.

04/01/2017 11:19 PM

I have a few who are probably dead by now. Kinda wish I knew when and where.

My bladder bothers me terrible not knowing where they may be buried for sure so I can pay them a fitting goodbye visit.

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#10
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Re: It's Not You. It's the Alphabet.

04/01/2017 11:16 PM

My desk was almost always closest to the door but it wasn't for GPA standing. For that I would have been sitting 2 - 3 furthest from the door.

Mostly go the the door seat because I made so many trips to the principal's office it was just a matter of convenience for the teachers and myself.

I just wanted a quality education and I raised right proper hell when it came up short.(Near dailly with some teachers.)

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#13
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Re: It's Not You. It's the Alphabet.

04/02/2017 9:33 AM

Funny, now that you mention it, I remember doing the same thing!

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#14
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Re: It's Not You. It's the Alphabet.

04/02/2017 3:14 PM

Of course I'm a "W" too, and definitely remember being assigned to the back of the room, at least in elementary school. My memories of middle and high school aren't so definite regarding seating.

In fact, the majority of what I truly remember from those days is centered on stuff I drew or built, either in class or at home.

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#9

Re: It's Not You. It's the Alphabet.

04/01/2017 10:53 PM

There's something wrong here. My last name starts with "G", but I'm a tad poorer than Trump.

Hooker

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#12
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Re: It's Not You. It's the Alphabet.

04/01/2017 11:32 PM

The price of being ethical?

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#15

Re: It's Not You. It's the Alphabet.

04/04/2017 10:37 AM

Trusting your destiny to number, symbols and letters does not impress or scare me at all. I lost the belief of symbolism. Somebody has invented it as a scare trap til you conform to it.

I invested on sound mind and sure hope-the one who made all the numbers and geometry into being. There's no difference at all. Someday we all gonna die. Some to life and some to death.

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