This principle, studied by Pelham, Carvallo and Jones (2003) asserts that people gravitate toward people, places, and things that resemble the self. It is an unconscious process that is grounded in people’s favourable self-associations: they are biased towards characteristics that relate to themselves. In other words, people like something they have a connection with, even though they may not be aware that this is the reason they feel favourably towards it. For example, customers will gravitate towards a business or website that they feel they share something in common with or that relates directly to something they connect with. This principle of Social Cognition is also referred to as Implicit Egotism.
Academic research has shown through several studies that people’s personal details are likely to affect their life choices. For instance, there are statistically more people named Louis living in the city of St. Louis than in any other city, and people named Dennis or Denise become dentists more often than people with other names. It was also found during a study done in Pelham that there was a direct correlation between people’s birthdays and the number of the address where they lived. It seems that people subconsciously choose towns, careers and addresses that have a link with the primary elements of their identity (name, age, birthday, etc.).
This cognitive bias has vast applications in marketing and sales. It is good practice for brands to adapt their marketing strategies to their target audience in order to incite an immediate sense of familiarity and connection to the product, even perhaps including the customer’s specific details within their product where possible. For example, brands such as Starbucks Coffee and Coca-Cola put the names of their customers on their coffee cups and Coca-Cola bottles so that they immediately feel more connected with the brand.