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Why you’re more likely to follow someone with the same name as you


There is very good reason to believe that our names are incredibly important.  For instance, studies have shown that we’re more likely to choose a brand when that brand name begins with the same letter as our first name.

It’s even been suggested that our name is likely to influence the career we have, with people more likely to choose a career where the first letter of the job matches the first letter of their name.  So a Daniel is more likely to become a dentist than a Brad is.

As if that isn’t weird enough, a recent paper revealed that we’re more likely to live in a town that shares the first few letters of its name with the first few letters of our name.  So a Mildred is more likely to live in Milwaukee, Phil in Philadelphia and so on.

A recent study has set out to explore whether the name letter effect also occurs on social media, and if so, why.  Are we more likely to follow people with the same name as us?

The belief thus far is that we’re constantly on the look out for things and people who tend to reflect ourselves in some way.  It’s what’s known as implicit egotism.

The researchers, from the University of Southern California, analyzed around 52 million Twitter users, and the 1.9 billion connections between them.  They stripped out from their sample any users that were not based in America in a bid to avoid any national biases.

Once the sample was relatively clean, they began their exploration by first analyzing the followers of well known brands.  Were their followers more likely to have shared letters with the brand?  Well, it seems not, at least not for the eight brands studied in the research.

They then turned their attention to the connections we have with each other.  Are we more likely to follow those with the same name as ourselves.  Bizarrely, the data suggests that this may actually occur.  It emerged that men are around 30% more likely to follow someone with the same name as them.  Strangely, this was even more pronounced amongst women, with female users 45% more likely to follow someone with the same name.

As to why this might happen, the findings left the researchers somewhat baffled.  They believe implicit egotism may be responsible, which would certainly fit with the notion that social media does encourage narcissism, but it is far from conclusive.

The results do suggest however that if you want more followers, having a common name does no harm.

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