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“I once had a dentist named Dr. Fillmore”: Stories of nominative determinism

Illustration of multiple "Hello my name is" sticker name tags with various examples of nominative determinism like; C. Striker, Snakecatcher, and Mason, Construction and Dennis, Dentist.
Eda Uzunlar
Connecticut Public

There’s a theory that people are drawn to work that fits their name. This hour, an exploration of nominative determinism. Plus, a look at the different ways your name impacts your life.


  • David Bird: Emeritus professor of wildlife biology and director of the Avian Science and Conservation Centre of McGill University
  • Brett Pelham: Professor of psychology at Montgomery College
  • Tess Terrible: Senior producer of Where We Live on Connecticut Public
  • Laura Wattenberg: Naming expert, author of The Baby Name Wizard, and the creator of Namerology

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Colin McEnroe, Jonathan McNicol, and Cat Pastor contributed to this show, which originally aired February 16, 2023.

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Lily is the senior producer for The Colin McEnroe Show. She first worked at Connecticut Public as an intern in 2014. She has previously worked for WBUR, KUNC and as a producer for the New England News Collaborative's weekly show Next. Lily can be reached at ltyson@ctpublic.org.