Written by Marina Andreoli
No one knows the importance of a warm connection better than an ex-pat. The truth is, leaving people behind for the Land of a Thousand Spires can sometimes feel a thousand kinds of lonely.
The good news is that it CAN be fun to find people who feel like home, even in a foreign land. Want a homie hack? Here are three foundational factors that increase mutual liking.
When you chat with those near you, the cards are in your favor. Research confirms this common-sense principle too! When Festinger and colleagues studied friendships in a student complex, they found that people were most likely to choose friends who lived the closest, in the same building and on the same floor. Additionally, evidence came from inter-floor interactions.
As shown above, residents in rooms 1 and 5 (close to staircases) interacted most with upper floor residents. More friendships formed between rooms 6 and 1 than between 7 and 2. Proximity means accessibility, where the benefits of interacting come at a lower cost.
Sure, Zoom calls and social media put everyone at screen’s reach, but consider getting to know colleagues, other parents at your child’s school, or your neighbor for when these platforms crash again.
We all know that seeing someone often leads us to feel familiar with them. But how do we know this leads to liking? Again, there is science behind this! Studies confirm that we humans are susceptible to the Zajonc’s mere exposure effect, meaning the more we see something, the more familiar we become —and the kicker —the more we like it. But, for every theory, there is always an equal and opposite effect. The less is more effect (Norton et al.) states that if we learn something about someone that makes them seem dissimilar to us, the less we like them.
Familiarity helps positive regard and attraction, but if we learn undesirable dissimilarities along the way, that opinion can change. This leads us to the third likability aspect.
Familiarity can only take you so far. There is another crucial ingredient to this chemistry: attitudes towards things, ideas, values, etc. Clore’s law of attraction says that attraction towards someone relates to the proportion of attitudes that you share. Any shared opinion or attitude is felt as approval of you!
As a silly example, Marketa likes cake, and I like cake. I feel I am right to like cake, and so I like Marketa more now. But if Jano does not like cake, an alarm bell sounds. It makes me question my thinking, so I avoid Jano to keep my peace.
These three factors are the basics of interpersonal attraction. So the next time you are anxious about making a good impression, relax. Likeability is simple! You find people to be around and then find common interests or viewpoints— disagreeing is fine, even healthy, but identify valuable topics where you agree. Combine this with a warm smile, and you have a trusty blueprint for making new buddies.
Hogg, M. A., & Vaughan, G. M. (2008). Social Psychology (5th ed.). Ft Pr.