Were more likely to help people with the same name as us.
Shared names prompt good deeds.
When seeking help from a stranger, ask someone who shares your name: people are more likely to assist a namesake, an e-mail study has revealed1.
A shared name indicates two people are likely to share genes, so evolution may have taught us to be nice to our namesakes, suggests psychologist Margo Wilson who carried out the study at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
Help’s at handle
The US census records 88,217 surnames, 4,275 female names and 1,219 male names, ranked in order of commonness from Mary to Willodean and James to Broderick.
Wilson and her colleague Kirsten Oates took some names from the top of the charts, such as Jones, Smith, Gary and Nancy and some from between positions 100 and 300, including Andrews, Morrison, and the first names Dwayne and Tracey.
The duo set up e-mail accounts for 223 fictitious people bearing all permutations of common and uncommon names. They then posed as a student seeking information on sports team mascots, and sent out nearly 3,000 requests to strangers sharing either one, both or no names, asking for information on their local mascots.
About 12% of those sharing both names responded, compared with less than 2% of people sharing none. A shared first name or surname got a smaller response, but was better than nothing.
"When both names were shared, some people showed a great deal of excitement," says Wilson. The phantom namesakes received requests for more information about themselves, and their addresses.
These results are just what you’d expect, says Christopher Badcock, an evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics. "A surname goes down the generations by the same route as the person’s genes," Badcock says.
Women were the most diligent respondents. This sex bias is "baffling", comments ecologist Ben Hatchwell, of the University of Sheffield. Surnames pass down the male line, so you’d expect a name to be a much better guide to a man’s ancestry than a woman’s.
The precise relationship between shared names and genes is still unclear, Hatchwell adds. He also speculates that fashions in first names - such as the spate of Leo’s in Britain, following the birth of Prime Minister Tony Blair’s son - may influence the results.
Previous studies in North America showed that women tend to be families’ ’kin keepers’. They are better at staying in touch with distant relatives, and have a better knowledge of who’s related to whom, although this varies across cultures. Women also seem to be better at social contact in general.
JOHN WHITFIELD | © Nature News Service
Magnetic nanopropellers deliver genetic material to cells
08.05.2020 | Max-Planck-Institut für Intelligente Systeme
Development of new system for combatting COVID-19 that can be used for other viruses
08.04.2020 | University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Microelectronics as a key technology enables numerous innovations in the field of intelligent medical technology. The Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering IBMT coordinates the BMBF cooperative project "I-call" realizing the first electronic system for ultrasound-based, safe and interference-resistant data transmission between implants in the human body.
When microelectronic systems are used for medical applications, they have to meet high requirements in terms of biocompatibility, reliability, energy...
Thomas Heine, Professor of Theoretical Chemistry at TU Dresden, together with his team, first predicted a topological 2D polymer in 2019. Only one year later, an international team led by Italian researchers was able to synthesize these materials and experimentally prove their topological properties. For the renowned journal Nature Materials, this was the occasion to invite Thomas Heine to a News and Views article, which was published this week. Under the title "Making 2D Topological Polymers a reality" Prof. Heine describes how his theory became a reality.
Ultrathin materials are extremely interesting as building blocks for next generation nano electronic devices, as it is much easier to make circuits and other...
Scientists took a leukocyte as the blueprint and developed a microrobot that has the size, shape and moving capabilities of a white blood cell. Simulating a blood vessel in a laboratory setting, they succeeded in magnetically navigating the ball-shaped microroller through this dynamic and dense environment. The drug-delivery vehicle withstood the simulated blood flow, pushing the developments in targeted drug delivery a step further: inside the body, there is no better access route to all tissues and organs than the circulatory system. A robot that could actually travel through this finely woven web would revolutionize the minimally-invasive treatment of illnesses.
A team of scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (MPI-IS) in Stuttgart invented a tiny microrobot that resembles a white blood cell...
By studying the chemical elements on Mars today -- including carbon and oxygen -- scientists can work backwards to piece together the history of a planet that once had the conditions necessary to support life.
Weaving this story, element by element, from roughly 140 million miles (225 million kilometers) away is a painstaking process. But scientists aren't the type...
Study co-led by Berkeley Lab reveals how wavelike plasmons could power up a new class of sensing and photochemical technologies at the nanoscale
Wavelike, collective oscillations of electrons known as "plasmons" are very important for determining the optical and electronic properties of metals.
19.05.2020 | Event News
07.04.2020 | Event News
06.04.2020 | Event News
25.05.2020 | Medical Engineering
25.05.2020 | Information Technology
25.05.2020 | Information Technology