I’m reading this book at the moment by neuroscientist David Eagleman* in which he says it’s been proven that people are more likely to be attracted to someone if their first name begins with the same letter as themselves (ie. John and Jenny, Tom and Tina). In another study, researchers asked people to taste two (fictional) brands of tea. One of the brand names always began with the first three letters of the chooser’s name, so that Tommy might sample tea with the brands Tomeva and Lauler. Almost always, the chooser would select the brand corresponding closely with their own name, so that Tommy would choose Tomeva and Laura would choose Lauler. This is called ‘implicit egotism’, an unconscious type of self-love. Surely not? But hey, it goes further. A selection of students were asked to read an essay about Rasputin (above). For half the students, Rasputin’s birthday was mentioned in the essay and ‘fixed’ so that it always corresponded to the reader’s own birthday. For the other half, a different birthday to the reader’s own was used. Afterwards the students were asked to answer questions about what Rasputin was like. Almost overwhelmingly, the students who thought Rasputin shared their own birthday gave him a more positive review. They simply liked him more. Believe that? Well how about this …. research has also shown that people are attracted to professions that sound like their name! So Denise and Dennis are more likely to be dentists, Laura and Laurence will end up as lawyers and George and Georgina stand a good chance of being geologists. A disproprtionate amount of roofers have a name beginning with R and more doctors have a name starting with a D. Sounds hard to believe doesn’t it? But maybe we should find out how many communications professionals are called Colin, Charlotte, Claire, Chris etc? And is there a learning here for employee engagement? Maybe only hire people whose first name matches the organisation name?!
* Incognito by David Eagleman