Does using your name as your email address enhance your professionalism?
Email addresses are have become an important form of personal identity in the 21st century. But today’s new emailers may have a difficult time finding an email address that suits them. With billions of people now having email addresses, many of the good usernames (quite likely your own name) have already been taken.
This may reflect a preference for more professional email addresses, for example, email addresses directly associated with a person’s first and last name. Does having such an email address convey an air of professionalism that others don’t?
We ran an experiment with 400 people on Amazon Mechanical Turk where participants were shown an email address from a hypothetical acquaintance. We randomized whether the email address used the person's full name or an abbreviated version with other letters and numbers.
Specifically, participants were told to “Imagine you get an email from [ firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com ], a recent acquaintance asking if there are any job openings at the company you work for.” Whether participants saw the full name email address or the less formal email address was randomly assigned.
Participants were then asked, "How professional do you feel this email sender is?” on a 1-7 scale (1 = Not at all, 7 = Extremely). We then compared the average ratings of professionalism between the mixed email address and full name email address.
We found a significant difference in perceived professionalism between the mixed characters email address (avg. = 4.25) and the full name email address (avg. = 4.98), a difference of 0.73 or 17% (p < 0.001). This equates to a medium standardized effect size.
The results suggest that there is, in fact, a professionalism premium for having an email address with your full name and no additional mixed characters. So if you have the opportunity to snag an email address that uses your name, you should consider it.
We used an independent samples t-test to test for significant differences in perceptions between our two experimental conditions. For significant differences, the difference between the two groups' averages would be large and its corresponding “p-value” would be small. If the p-value is less than 0.05, we consider the difference statistically significant, meaning we'd likely find a similar effect if we ran the study again with this population. To test for significant interactions between the main results and participant demographics, we used OLS regression analyses with interaction terms.