Middle name initials often appear in formal contexts, especially when people refer to intellectual achievements. On the basis of this common link, the display of middle initials increases positive evaluations of people’s intellectual capacities and achievements. We document this effect in seven studies: Middle initials in authors’ names increased the evaluation of their writing performance (Study 1), and middle initials increased perceptions of status (Studies 2 and 4). Moreover, the middle initials effect was specific to intellectual performance (Studies 3 and 6), and it was mediated by perceived status (Studies 5–7).
That is from a paper by Wijnand A.P. van Tilburg and Eric R. Igou, via Anecdotal. For me it has always been just “Tyler Cowen,” I have never had a middle name or initial.