Similarity and Helping Behavior on the Web: The Impact of the Convergence of Surnames Between a Solicitor and a Subject in a Request Made by E-Mail1


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    The authors thank two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions on this paper.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Nicolas Guéguen, IUT de Vannes-Departement TC, Université de Bretagne-Sud, 8 rue Montaigne, BP 561, F-56017 Vannes, France.


Similarity between a solicitor and a subject traditionally enhances helping behavior. An experiment was carried out in a computer-mediated context. Fifty students received an e-mail containing a 40-question survey on their food habits, which required 15 to 20 min of their time to respond. This questionnaire came from a hypothetical student of the university in which the participants were registered. In half of the cases, the surname of the solicitor, which appeared in his or her electronic address, was the same as the surname of the target. Results show that compliance to the request was significantly higher in the same-sumame condition than in the different-surname condition. The response delay was significantly shorter in the same-surname condition than in control condition.