A study finds that the closer your last name is to the end of the alphabet, the faster you make purchasing decisions. And yes, the behavior is ingrained in us based on how we all used to line up in school.
Researchers tested groups response times four different ways, and in each of them, the R-Z set responded faster than the A-Q set.
The study’s authors theorize that people at the front of the alphabetic line are used to going first, taking their time, and getting their prime choice. Those towards the back are used to always being last and having to pick through the remainders. Dubbed the “last name effect,” the Zucks of the world are habituated to having to act fast and are much more susceptible to “buy it now” and limited time offers than, say, the Abrams and Adams.
So what does this mean for you? “Any time you can better understand yourself and the factors that affect behavior, you can override them,” said one of the study’s authors. If your name is towards the back, take an extra moment when making purchasing decisions if time is short. And those with names towards the front should be more on the ready to pounce when time is pressed.
Tyranny of the Alphabet [Slate]
The Last Name Effect: How Last Name Influences Acquisition Timing [The Journal of Consumer Research]