We Still Line Up At School in Alphabetical Order and It Affects Our Lives

We Still Line Up At School in Alphabetical Order and It Affects Our LivesThis Grandma remembers not only lining up in alphabetical order in elementary school, but also remembers that we sat at our desks in alphabetical order. For years, I had the same person in front of me and behind me in line and sitting in front and behind me in every classroom. My last name was in the middle of the alphabet and I always sat in the middle of the room. I wonder if that is why I like hearing both sides of an argument and want to find a resolution for a problem somewhere in the middle.

It seems that social scientists are researching the effect that putting us all in alphabetic order has on our behavior. It does affect us.

In the “Name Game,” in the Miami Herald, September 13, 2014, the author, Brett Graff, says “new research proves that this seemingly impartial ordering of kids–it begins in kindergarten and expands to lining up for recess and lunch – will have very real effects in adulthood, resurfacing in how quick people are to spend money on limited – time offers.”

The study was done at Georgetown University’s Institute for Consumer Research. Of course, businesses want to know our spending habits. Kurt Carlson, associate professor and director, stated, “those with childhood last names coming late in the alphabet are so over being last in line, they’ve developed response tendencies that get themselves out front. People whose childhood last names begin with early letters won’t feel that urgency, waiting until the last minute to capitalize on offers.”

Another professor, Qi Wang, professor of human development at Cornell, is quoted as stating that

. . .memory serves the important function of directing our behavior in current and future situations. Things that happened in the past help us to solve problems. Childhood memories have a long lasting impact on how we behave. Oftentimes that influence takes place without us being aware. And that makes it even more powerful.

This Grandma wonders if that is why the youngest in the family always wants to be first. I bet that is the next study to get us to spend money is whether if we are the youngest or oldest in the family affects how we spend money. I think it does. The oldest is usually more cautious, and a rule follower. The youngest is always more easy going and open, so spending money probably comes easier to the youngest.

The research information is important for another reason. I was happy that I married someone whose last name came near the beginning of the alphabet. Maybe the studies above show why I wanted my children to be near the front of the line and front of the room. Our children paid no attention and married those with last names near the end of the alphabet. And here, I thought alphabetical lines no longer existed!

Brett Graff mentions that the studies are already being used and quotes Christopher Elliott, a consumer advocate:

But what’s indisputable is that thanks to auction sales held by websites – ebay.com, groupon.com, gilt.com, onekingslane.com – limited time offers have increased. . .the goal is to press us to decide immediately. . . I don’t know who came up with the saying, “You snooze, you lose,” Elliott said, “But it was probably someone in the marketing department.”

Maybe it’s time for grandmas to talk to parents to talk to the education department. Don’t you think they might vary this childhood procedure now that we know there is an actual detrimental impact on adult behavior.





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