Most of our friendships happen so naturally, we don’t even realise how they started.
Sometimes, though, we want to make an effort to befriend a new acquaintance or to become a better friend to those around us.
We scoured the psychological research to find science-backed strategies to get people to like you.
Try them – they won’t even know.
Known as the mere exposure effect, this psychological term means that people like things that are familiar to them. In an experiment by MIT psychologists, researchers found that those who lived closer together found themselves to be closer friends. This is because they can experience more passive, day-to-day interactions with each other -- such as greeting each other in the common room or kitchen -- so they feel more intimate.
Even if you don't live near your friends, try sticking to a steady routine with them, such as going out for coffee every week or taking a class together.
People will associate the adjectives you use to describe other people with yourself. This phenomenon is called spontaneous trait transference.
If you describe someone else as genuine and kind, people will also associate you with those qualities. The reverse is also true -- if you are constantly trashing people behind their backs, your friends will start to associate the negative qualities with you as well.
Due to emotional contagion, people are strongly influenced by the moods of other people. According to a research paper from the University of Ohio and the University of Hawaii, people unconsciously feel the emotions of those around them.
If you are always happy and fun to be around, you'll make everyone around you feel great, too. The opposite applies as well. According to Rubin, 'Negative moods are more contagious than positive moods.'
In a University of Virginia study, researchers found that those who thought of their close friends while working on difficult tasks found them to be a lot easier. This is because their friends provided them social support.
Participants were instructed to estimate the steepness of a hill they had to climb. When they had a friend with them, they estimated the hill to be less steep. And even when they simply visualized that they had a supportive friend during their climb, the task seemed far easier.
If you can show your friend that they can truly count on you in difficult times, it could make all the difference in your relationship.
The gain loss theory says that the balance of cost and reward plays a huge role in friendships. Although it's counterintuitive, try complimenting your friends less often.
If you compliment them too much, they might question your motives or honesty. However, if you only compliment them once in a while, your actions are more likely to stand out and make them feel good.
According to the pratfall effect, your friends will like you more after you make a mistake -- but only if they believe you are usually a competent person. Revealing that you aren't perfect makes you more relatable and vulnerable toward the people around you.
Researcher Elliot Aronson first discovered this phenomenon when he studied how simple mistakes can impact perceived attraction. He asked male students from the University of Minnesota to listen to tape recordings of people who took a quiz. When people did well on the quiz but spilled coffee at the end of the interview, the students rated them higher on likeability.
According to a classic study by Theodore Newcomb, people are more attracted to those who are similar to them. This is known as the similarity attraction effect. In his experiment, Newcomb measured his subjects' attitudes on controversial topics such as sex and politics, and then put them in a University of Michigan-owned house to live together.
By the end of their stay, the subjects liked their housemates more when they had similar attitudes about the topics that were measured. Shared values are important because they show that you have good taste, validate your friend's opinion, reduce conflict, and allow you to share more common experiences together.
C.S. Lewis sums this up well. He writes, 'Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: 'What! You, too? Thought I was the only one.''
If you want to deliver a smile with the highest social value, make sure it's genuine. According to Bangor University research, people prefer smiles that are genuine much more than those that are merely polite.
In one study, pairs of strangers were introduced to each other. Researchers observed that participants always reciprocated the smile type of the other person, whether it was genuine or polite. However, participants reacted much more quickly to genuine smiles than polite ones, perhaps because they were anticipating them as a form of social reward.
Here's the difference. According to a ScienceDaily article, 'Polite smiles, for example, typically occur when sociocultural norms dictate that smiling is appropriate. Genuine smiles, on the other hand, signify pleasure, occur spontaneously, and are indicated by engagement of specific muscles around the eye.'
The best type of smile is known as the Duchenne smile, which stands out because it extends the mouth further and makes crow's feet at the outer corner of the eyes.
According to the Pygmalion effect, people treat others in ways that are consistent with their expectations of them, and therefore cause the person to behave in a way that confirms those expectations.
In a Harvard Magazine article, psychologist Amy Cuddy says, 'If you think someone's a jerk, you'll behave toward them in a way that elicits jerky behaviours.'
On the other hand, if you expect someone to be friendly toward you, they are more likely to behave in a friendly manner toward you.
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