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Call it Implicit Egotism or I Like Me

Call it implicit egotism or I like me, most of us like things that are like us. According to Wikipedia, implicit egotism is “is the hypothesis that humans have an unconscious preference for things they associate with themselves.” I was reminded of this recently as I listened to the NPR podcast The Hidden Brain. The episode from October 2017 that got me thinking about this again was called What’s In It For Me?

When I first learned about implicit egotism many years ago I started collecting all the “coincidences” that come with people’s names and their effect on choice of career or partner. Below is my growing list. I think you’ll find some are quite humorous.

Let’s start with the proctologist named Dr. Ransbottom. If your bottom is sore he’d be the right guy to see.

When a good friend’s daughter was on the swim team I learned her coach was Jim Peterfish. Who’d have guessed someone with fish in their name would be into swimming?

The person who sold us our marble countertops years ago was named Dan Mason. Only someone named Stone could have done better.

My friend Michael Franzese has two favorite artists; Michael Angelo and Frank Frazetta. Michael and Michael may not be too uncommon but you can’t get much closer to Franzese than Frazetta!

On a news program I found out Dr. Lawrence Bone is an orthopedic surgeon in Buffalo, NY. You might say he’s the person to see for a good break.

James Float was an Olympic gold medalist in the 4×200 freestyle swimming event at the 1984 Olympics. Apparently, he does more than just float when he’s in the pool.

I don’t know Nicci Sprouse personally but found it quite interesting that she was President and co-founder of The Dating League. In other words, Sprouse helped people find a spouse.

I met Horace Henriot at a networking event. I thought it quite coincidental that he was a polo teacher. Why? Because Horace works with horses.

Robert Cialdini goes by Bob with friends. Is it totally random that he’s married to Bobette? Maybe, but then again, maybe not.

Richard D. Fairbank was the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Capital One Financial Corporation. I wonder if anyone knew early on that Fairbank would start something so similar to a bank when he grew up.

Former Alaskan Air CEO was Bill Ayers. Come on now! I guess his head was in the clouds from a young age.

Ronald Reagan’s press secretary at one time was Larry Speakes. If you want someone to speak on your behalf you might as well get someone who truly lives it.

Marcus Webb was the director of The Amazing Spiderman. Perhaps Spiderman isn’t the only person who can spin a web.

Steve Ruble is an accounting manager for the company I work for. In case you don’t know it, the ruble is a form of Russian currency. Steve was destined to work with money.

And here’s the craziest one…as far as I’m concerned. My daughter is Abigail Ahearn. She’s dating Tyler Ahearn. What?!? Don’t worry, they were friends for years before they started dating and during that time checked ancestral records to see if there were related. Fortunately, there’s no relation as far back as they could go. If they were to get married their kids won’t have three eyes or 12 toes and best of all, my surname would continue on.

This is lighthearted but is there anything that can help you by knowing this? Yes, two things come to mind. First, when you’re drawn to someone or something and you notice a funny coincidence about names, pause and consider whether you really want the job or relationship or are you being drawn in because of implicit egotism.

My second bit of advice goes to you as a persuader. If you notice you have something that connects you and the other person or job, mention it. While implicit egotism usually happens at the subconscious level, making the connection for people will probably help and get a chuckle. Here are a few examples:

  • “Yes, my name is Bill and that’s why I think I would do well in billing and collections.”
  • “I guess you could say Sue is the perfect name for a prosecuting attorney.”
  • “With names like Patrick and Patricia it’s almost as if we were meant to be!”

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at InfluencePEOPLEand Learning Director for State Auto Insurance. His Lynda.com course, Persuasive Selling, has been viewed nearly 135,000 times! Watch it and you’ll learn how to ethically engage the psychology of persuasion throughout the sales process.