Psychology of Attraction and Likability
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- 5 articles
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- Certificate of Completion
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- Implement scientifically sound principles of attraction to generate greater liking
- Understand research in social psychology and how to apply it
- Use strategies to make interactions go more smoothly
- This is completely introductory. There's no need to already know about psychological science, and if you do, there will be plenty of new information in this course for you.
If you've ever wanted to have smooth interactions and get people on your side, this is a course for you! More than 17,000 people have enrolled in my online psychology courses to learn more about the human mind and to achieve success. You can be one of them!
Even if you are already likable, the principles in this course will give you extra tools to more swiftly connect with the people you meet. This isn't just about making friends and finding romance…when people like you, they're more likely to trust what you have to say, help you out, and say "yes" when you ask for a favor. Salespeople, for example, have known for ages that people buy from people they like.
Across more than two hours of video content, we'll explore seven unique principles of attraction. By looking closely at the available evidence, we'll learn more about when and how these principles promote greater liking. Each section covers one principle of attraction, and at the end of each section, I review what we've learned and offer thoughts about applying the information.
Through this course, we'll cover…
- how surprising changes in your posture and gestures can increase rapport and social connection
- why people like you more the more they see you, even if you never say a word
- how something as simple as having similar likes and dislikes powerfully increases liking
- how simple compliments can create liking even if they're not at all true
- how a simple tap on the shoulder increases your ability to convince another person
- ...and much more!
The principles in this course rely on scientific research in psychology to give you an in-depth look at statistically reliable tactics shown to increase liking and attraction. Unlike other books and courses, these aren't just assumptions about likability.
Importantly, I won't just provide you with the scholarly research and leave it at that. At the end of each section, I offer ideas on how to translate the scientific findings into concrete strategies that you can implement right away the next time you're hoping to make a social connection with someone.
As an award-winning psychology instructor, I have experience translating research in the field and presenting it in an engaging, understandable way. My students routinely evaluate my courses highly and comment on the passion I have for social psychology. I hope you can join this group of satisfied students and learn something new about yourself and psychology.
So take this course now and begin to understand the science of attraction and what it can do for you!
- People who want to nudge social interactions to go more smoothly
- People whose jobs entail dealing with others and getting other people on their side
- People who would like to attract more friends and social partners
- People who want to boost their own romantic attractiveness
- People who are interested in psychological science and research on attraction
- Even if you are already very likable, this course is still for you if you want better understand how to help others or refine your sense of what makes a person likable
In this first lecture, we'll discuss the value of understanding research on attraction and what to expect from the course.
I should probably tell you a little bit about who I am, right? In this quick lecture, I'll let you know where I'm coming from and why I'm capable of constructing this course effectively. My background in social psychology. I conduct my own research in this field, have written extensively for academic outlets, and have taught courses on various topics in social psychology at a large U.S. university.
First we'll cover the basics of similarity-attraction science and talk about the many ways in which this strategy can be so powerful.
In general, we like people who are like us. In this first lecture, we'll cover this general notion and discuss the power that both actual and perceived similarity can have in boosting degrees of liking and connection.
In this quick lecture, we'll take a look at what it means for "similar personalities" to promote liking. Although many people think that complementary personalities are ideal for sustained relationships, some research has established patterns whereby being similar in personality can be more important for generating liking. That is, extraverts tend to befriend other extraverts, and conscientious people tend to befriend other conscientious people.
In another quick lecture, we'll examine the link between similarity in physical attractiveness and overall liking (and how this relationship can get complicated). Although it's true that people tend to be drawn to more physically attractive others, research on the "matching hypothesis" suggests that what's also influential is one's own physical attractiveness. That is, despite a general desire for more attractive others, people tend to maintain stronger connections with other people of similar physical attractiveness.
This might be one of the most powerful predictors of attraction that's been studied, and we'll spend some time talking about the value of establishing similar values and attitudes with another person.
When people find out that another person shares many of their values, attitudes, and beliefs, they instantly like that person more than if they find out he or she holds very different opinions. Time and again research has shown this to be true, documenting the power of similar attitudes. In this lecture, I'll describe some of those early studies and one recent piece of evidence specific to the importance of similarity in political ideology.
Similarity doesn't just increase liking--it also makes people more likely to say "yes" to your requests. I'll quickly tell you about a couple studies that show this extra link, and we'll see another way in which people can be similar (i.e., with the clothes they wear).
We'll take a first look at the power of familiarity in likability.
I'll discuss a few simple research findings that illustrate the fact that we tend to like other people the more familiar they are to us. People, however, can be familiar for a number of reasons. For example, something as simple as a person's name can signal familiarity, which in turn is related to liking.
One way of generating a sense of familiarity is mere spatial proximity.
In fact, this is probably one of the earliest demonstrations of a familiarity effect on liking. We'll discuss a classic study on MIT students who had been randomly assigned to various rooms in a campus residence hall. By closely analyzing the patterns of which people become friends with one another, these researchers discovered that the best predictor of friendship bonds was how close together their rooms were. Simply by living near another person makes someone dramatically more likely to develop a social connection with him or her.
Another way of generating a sense of familiarity is the "mere exposure effect"--a strong driver of attraction in many ways. We'll spend a good deal of time going through what's been done in this domain.
According to mere exposure, simply encountering something a number of times is enough to automatically make it more likable. We'll start off by discussing the general research on mere exposure as we learn that something as simple as repeated exposure makes something seem more positive. Then we'll look more closely at the research on interpersonal liking. Across a number of studies, we'll see that if you just see someone a few times, you'll come to like the person more than if you see the person only once or not at all.
In this case, "familiarity" with a person increases with each additional exposure, and as we know, familiarity breeds liking.
In this quick video, I'll make mention of some evidence that make us trust the mere exposure effect even more. I'll also talk about something extra that you need to keep in mind before jumping to employ this technique. This is that the mere exposure effect tends to be much weaker if a person is already perceived to be negative.
Here we'll discuss the research on "mimicry" or "behavioral synchrony" on attraction and liking.
Although "mimicry" seems like a bad thing, and we certainly don't want to mock other people, by simply adopting the subtle behaviors and gestures of others, we can covertly deepen social connections. We'll discuss several compelling studies that show how this simple act of subtle behavioral mimicry strengthens rapport and increases liking.
New evidence suggests a nice side effect of mimicry's influence on liking. It turns out that engaging in subtle mimicry can even make the other person more likely to help you with a problem you're facing. This and other research in the field is an exciting development, which demonstrates the real benefits of these liking tactics.
I wanted to quickly make the point that these "principles of attraction" may seem like they're very distinct, there's plenty of overlap between these ideas. Here I'll cover some preliminary evidence suggesting that mimicry works because it increases perceptions of familiarity.
Follow this link to see a clip from a recent PBS special in which Alan Alda visits Tanya Chartrand and they talk about this field of research.
Although I'll use the word "like" a few too many times, we'll discuss the power of "reciprocal liking" and the ways in which it can generate attraction.
What we'll find in the studies I review here is that people like you more when they find out you like them. "Reciprocity" refers to "paying someone back," and in this case, people are likely to return liking. In some early studies, researchers led participants to believe that their activity partners came to like or dislike them. This simple piece of information caused a big increase in how much they then said they like the partner. In fact, this occurred in spite of perceived dissimilarity (see Section 2). We'll also review a study that showed the power reciprocal liking has to change behavior. When you find out someone likes you, you then act objectively more likable to them.
Recent research adds a new layer to the notion of "reciprocal liking," and we'll briefly cover this new addition to the research literature.
Basically, even though it's true that we like people who like us (see the previous lecture), a recent dataset suggests that people like others even more when they're uncertain whether the other person likes or dislikes them.
Here we'll introduce the notion of "reactance"...or more simply, the fact that people often want what they can't have.
If you've ever been told that you can't do something, you've like felt a sense of "reactance," which just means that you respond with an increased desire to do exactly you're told you can't. While this is true across a range of restrictions, it can also be the case for interpersonal attraction. That is, when you feel like others are telling you that you can't have a relationship with another person it only deepens your attraction to that person. In this lesson, we'll discuss how that's true when parents seem to interfere in their kids' romantic relationships (the "Romeo & Juliet Effect") and when people feel pressure not to pay attention to attractive others (the "Forbidden Fruit Hypothesis").
The previous research on reactance might make you think that "playing hard to get" can be an effective strategy. We'll discuss the research on this strategy and uncover the important distinction between "wanting" and "liking."
Some evidence suggests that "playing hard to get" works under very specific circumstances. That is, when someone is already committed to the idea of pursuing some relationship, playing hard to get can make that person want to pursue that connection more strongly but doesn't increase liking for the other person. When there's no such committment at all, behaving in a reserved manner diminishes both wanting and liking.
Here we'll discuss the nuanced relationship between secrecy and attraction.
Some interesting evidence suggests that keeping a relationship secret amplifies feelings of attraction. One study found that engaging in secret physical contact while others were present increased liking for the stranger with whom participants engaged in the secret contact.
Newer research, however, has questioned the benefits of secrecy, instead finding that secrecy inhibits attraction and can be detrimental to relationships.
I know the previous lecture painted secrecy as an amazing technique for developing romantic attraction, and despite the one finding that people tend to think about their secret relationships more than their non-secret relationships in the future, it's worth noting newer research in this area. In this quick video, I want to acknowledge recent evidence suggesting that keeping a relationship secret may actually have negative consequences.
In this quick lecture, we'll look at some of the science on physical contact and attraction. We'll see that it may only sometimes be a good idea.
It is the case that using physical contact can increase casual liking. Salespeople who lightly touch a customer on the shoulder are more successful at getting the customer to try and purchase a product, for example, than those who don't touch at all.
We'll also look at some research, though, that shows how physical contact can increase romantic attraction between randomly paired partners but only when those individuals already have romantic sensibilities. For those who don't value love and romance as much, physical contact can actually be a turn-off.
Before we get too far into the rest of the course, it's my duty as a psychological scientist to make a brief statement about how we do research and how to interpret the results of individual studies. This will help you better understand the material in this course as well as psychology research you may encounter yourself. It's easy to make something sound scientific and "proven," but all too often, the research is poorly done or its results do not actually warrant the conclusions being offered.
First, there's correlational research, which involves establishing a relationship between two or more variables. Although this kind of research is very useful, there are a few logical issues that prevent us from making too much of the results. As we'll see, it doesn't perfectly capture the whole story, and it gives us little in the way of understanding what the causal factors are.
Second, there's experimental research, which is great at telling us about cause and effect. In this course, we want to know "what can I do to increase likability?" We can get a better answer to that through experiments. So in this lecture we go over the key elements of an experiment and why it's such a powerful research tool.