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The Power of "People Like Me"

Updated: Apr 1, 2023

Have you ever met someone who you immediately liked? Perhaps they reminded you of a dear friend or had an infectious laugh. Maybe they were wearing a t-shirt of your favorite sports team or you both went to the same college. C'mon...are those rational reasons to like someone? So what gives?


We all have a natural tendency to want to be around people we can relate to – “people like me.” It's human nature to gravitate towards people with common interests or backgrounds, and to favor people like us. It's an unconscious bias that happens to all of us. It's called affinity bias when we base assessments of people on how much they're like us.


Affinity bias is a type of unconscious bias where we favor people who look, act, and think like we do.


So, other than being someone like you, what makes someone likeable? Think about a person you really like. What characteristics does that person have? Physical attractiveness? Sense of humor? Outgoing personality? Maybe you recognize interpersonal skills such as empathy, humility and positivity.





Back in 1936, Dale Carnegie identified 6 ways to make people like you in How to Win Friends and Influence People.

  1. Become genuinely interested in other people.

  2. Smile.

  3. Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

  4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.

  5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interest.

  6. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

In a nutshell, it’s not that complicated: address people by name, ask questions, discover what makes them tick, make them feel seen, heard and valued. Listen twice as much as you talk. Be kind.

"You make more friends in two months by becoming genuinely interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you." - Dale Carnegie

Distilled down into simplest terms: We are more likable to others when we like others more.

Psychologists call this phenomenon "reciprocity of liking." When we think someone likes us, we tend to like them, too. One of the earliest studies was published in 1959. Participants were told that certain members of a group discussion would probably like them. These group members were chosen randomly by the experimenter. After the discussion, participants indicated that the people they liked best were the ones who supposedly liked them.


A second cousin to the reciprocity of liking is a phenomenon is called "spontaneous trait transference." People will associate the adjectives you use to describe other people with your personality. 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. According to Gretchen Rubin, author of the book "The Happiness Project," "whatever you say about other people influences how people see you."


 


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