Reciprocal Liking

15.08.2016 |

Episode #4 of the course Attraction science by Jake Teeny


Before we start today’s lesson, I want to take a moment to thank you for reading this course—or rather, for signing up for Highbrow courses in general. Already, I know that if we met, I would like you, and I’d want to spend time with you.

Now, considering you just read that, don’t you like me just a little bit more?

One of the surest ways to increase attraction is to express your liking for the other person. In a psychological phenomenon known as “reciprocal liking,” when you convey your liking for another person, they automatically increase their liking for you.

For example, researchers brought participants into the lab and had them interact with a confederate (i.e., an experimenter who is posing as a legitimate participant). In this study, the participant and confederate had a 5–10 minute conversation, before they each wrote down their thoughts about the interaction.

And after separating them into different rooms, the participant received his or her partner’s “impression” of the interaction.

Although the partner’s impressions were always canned responses, the researchers tweaked them slightly to see what would make the participant like their partner the most. However, one variable consistently emerged as the most useful: if the participant learned that their partner “liked and really enjoyed working with them,” then the participant really liked and enjoyed working with them, too!

Expressions of “liking” like this work, in part, through boosting the other’s self-esteem. According to sociometer theory, self-esteem serves as an “internal barometer” for how valuable you believe you are to others. That means, if you have high self-esteem, you tend to believe others like you, whereas having low self-esteem indicates you don’t believe you’re liked.

As we discussed in the first lesson, being liked by others is highly motivating (evolutionarily, we needed to be liked by others in order to join groups and increase our survival rate). However, reciprocal liking can increase attraction even further if you enact a similar psychological phenomenon called “reciprocal sharing.”

Research has shown that people tend to share information about themselves to the same extent (or depth) as others are willing to share about themselves. For example, if I tell you something shallow about myself (e.g., I like dogs more than cats), in return, you’re only going to tell me something shallow about yourself, too.

Instead, if I simply start with cursory information about myself, but then progress to increasingly deeper remarks, you in turn will share deeper information about yourself. And as a result, the heightened intimacy of these deeper questions leads to heightened attraction overall.

In fact, this technique has been refined so precisely, that there are a set of experimentally validated questions that have been shown to reliably increase attraction. In fact, a pair of individuals who had participated in the original research on these questions actually went on to get married!

Interested in what these questions may be? See below ;)

Love on the Brain? Follow this link to see the scientifically tested “love inducing” questions.


Recommended book:

“Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships” by Daniel Goleman


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