The name-letter-effect in groups: sharing initials with group members increases the quality of group work

PLoS One. 2013 Nov 13;8(11):e79039. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0079039. eCollection 2013.


Although the name-letter-effect has been demonstrated reliably in choice contexts, recent research has called into question the existence of the name-letter-effect-the tendency among people to make choices that bear remarkable similarity with the letters in their own name. In this paper, we propose a connection between the name-letter-effect and interpersonal, group-level behavior that has not been previously captured in the literature. Specifically, we suggest that sharing initials with other group members promotes positive feelings toward those group members that in turn affect group outcomes. Using both field and laboratory studies, we found that sharing initials with group members cause groups to perform better by demonstrating greater performance, collective efficacy, adaptive conflict, and accuracy (on a hidden-profile task). Although many studies have investigated the effects of member similarity on various outcomes, our research demonstrates how minimal a degree of similarity among members is sufficient to influence quality of group outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Group Processes
  • Humans
  • Names*
  • Quality Improvement
  • Task Performance and Analysis

Grant support

These authors have no support or funding to report.