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Believing another likes or dislikes you: Behaviors making the beliefs come true

The Researchers: R. C. Curtis and K. Miller, from Adelphi University

Published In: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 51(2), pp.284-290, 1986

Prognosis

Believe others like you, they will.

Particulars

When you think someone else doesn’t like you, do you call her just to chat or invite her out to drinks? Probably not. But what would happen if you did? In this study, researchers asked volunteers to treat subjects as if they liked them, no matter their real feelings.

‘Faking it’ created a self-fulfilling prophecy: Volunteers ended up truly liking the subjects they were only pretending to like. And when researchers questioned subjects themselves, they liked the volunteers who pretended to like them! Not surprisingly, the reverse was true for those who believed that the volunteers disliked them.

Why? Subjects who believed they were liked were more open and intimate in conversation, so the volunteers followed suit, and the conversation was fulfilling for both people. On the flip side, subjects who believed they were disliked were more disagreeable, which led to a less satisfying interaction.

Beauty connection

We all have bouts of insecurity, but learning to hide our fears and be friendly pays off. Having a wide social network improves your health and your beauty. In fact, having few friends is more harmful than not exercising and almost twice as harmful as obesity. Loneliness may actually age your body prematurely, and leads to higher stress levels. As the saying goes, “treat others as you’d like to be treated.” You just might make a friend.

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