Dale Carnegie famously called one’s own name the “sweetest, most important sound in any language.” And according to new research, knowing each other’s names might also help bring out the best in us.
A study published earlier this month in the journal Science Advances examines the effects of onymity – that is, the opposite of anonymity – on Chinese students in a classic two-player social experiment in which the most rational choice is betrayal. What researchers found, however, seems to defy rationality: Participants who learned each other’s names opted for cooperation over treachery.
When people get to know each other, conflict is reduced and cooperation increased. In the research, the scientists discovered that onymity promoted prosocial behaviors whereas punishment did not. Makes sense in hindsight, but fascinating that there is research to back it up.