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The Social Psychology of Name Change: Reflections on a Serendipitous Discovery

Darrel W. Drury and John D. McCarthy
Social Psychology Quarterly
Vol. 43, No. 3 (Sep., 1980), pp. 310-320
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3033733
Page Count: 11
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The Social Psychology of Name Change: Reflections on a Serendipitous Discovery
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Abstract

This paper investigates the phenomenon of name change in response to environmental pressure. Of 143 American students studying at the University of Copenhagen, approximately one-third adopted abbreviated or diminutized forenames during their stay. This phenomenon was consistent with environmental pressure in that many Danes with whom these students had contact regularly referred to them by hypocoristic versions of their given names. It is suggested that the decision to alter one's forename may be determined in part by the relative costs and rewards associated with interpersonal exchange. Willingness to shorten the forename was found to be strongly related to favorableness toward Denmark, satisfaction with one's experience there, the relative perception of personal and national evaluation by Danes, and change in self-esteem. While these findings are generally consistent with our exchange theory approach, several alternative theoretical perspectives provide equally plausible explanations.

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