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Make Friends by Increasing Your Likability Quotient

Why people are attracted to one another.

Laws of attraction play a critical role in shaping human relationships. Certain psychological principles increase the probability that two individuals will be drawn to each other and experience a positive outcome. Incorporating these principles into your relationships will provide additional ways for you to make friends with the people you meet. As with all predictors of human behavior, there are exceptions to the rules.

The Law of Similarity (Common Ground)

People holding the same perspectives, attitudes, and activities tend to develop close relationships. The adage “birds of a feather flock together” has merit. People are attracted to other people who share their interests. The need to avoid cognitive dissonance may explain why this is true. Dissonance occurs when people hold two opposing ideas or beliefs. These real or perceived differences create anxiety. People having similar views reinforce one another and enhance the likelihood of mutual attraction. Similarity also increases the probability that like-minded individuals will meet again. Mutual reinforcement maintains or elevates self-esteem, which leads to a greater sense of well-being and happiness.

People who share the same principles and beliefs rarely experience dissonance and feel secure in the sameness they share with each other. These individuals tend to experience less conflict because they perceive the world in similar ways. Sameness leads to the perception of greater happiness and a feeling of being understood. Even the perception of sameness will increase mutual attraction when people first meet.

The Law of Misattribution

When people feel good about themselves and do not attribute the good feeling to a specific cause, they tend to associate the source of that good feeling with the person who is physically close to them at the time. If you happen to be that person, you will be liked not for anything you did but because of the misattribution.

For example, when people exercise, their brains release endorphins. The release of endorphins gives these individuals a nonspecific sense of well-being. Since the effect of the endorphins is not directly attributed to exercise, the good feeling tends to be linked to the person who happens to be nearby. Since that good feeling is misattributed to the nearby person, he or she is subconsciously seen as the cause of the good feeling and, therefore, appears more attractive.

The Law of Curiosity

Curiosity can be used as a “hook” to pique a person’s interest in you. It is an effective way to make friends. All creatures capable of more than a mechanical response to stimuli are curious. It is a biological imperative driven by the need for self-preservation, reproduction, and greed. Humans want to know everything: who we are, who others are, where we came from, and what’s on the other side of the hill.

When you behave in a manner that produces curiosity in another person, it significantly increases the chances that individuals will want to interact with you to satisfy their curiosity. Thus, a “curiosity hook” becomes an effective tool for developing friendships.

The Law of Self-Disclosure

Self-disclosure promotes attraction. People feel a sense of closeness to others who reveal their vulnerabilities, innermost thoughts, and facts about themselves. The sense of closeness increases if the disclosures are emotional rather than factual. This is partly due to the intensity of such disclosures, which positively affects the likability of the person making them.

Disclosures that are too general reduce the sense of openness, thus reducing the feeling of closeness and likability. Disclosures that are too intimate often highlight the character and personality flaws of the person, thus decreasing likability. People who make intimate disclosures too early in a relationship are often perceived as insecure, reducing likability. Therefore, if you are meeting someone you would like to have as a long-term friend or significant other, you should be careful about making your most intimate disclosures in the early stages of the relationship.

Self-disclosures are often reciprocal. When one person makes self-disclosures, the listener is more likely to reciprocate by making similar ones. Mutual self-disclosures create trust. People who make personal disclosures become vulnerable to the person to whom the disclosures are made. Mutual self-disclosures create a safety zone because each person has exposed their vulnerabilities and tends to protect all the disclosures to avoid mutual embarrassment resulting from a breach of trust.

The Law of Humor

Individuals who use humor in social encounters are perceived as more likable. In addition, trust and attraction increase when a lighthearted approach is used during person-to-person interactions. Judicious use of humor can reduce anxiety and establish a relaxed mood that helps a relationship to develop more rapidly. A slightly risqué joke can help to escalate the level of intimacy in a flirtatious conversation. Of course, as with any verbal communication, the speaker must be sure that the words, or, in this case, the humor used, are appropriate and will not be perceived as offensive by the listener.

The added benefit to using humor is that laughing causes a release of endorphins, which makes you feel good about yourself, and, according to the Golden Rule of Friendship, if you make people feel good about themselves, they will like you.

The Law of Availability (Scarcity)

People are attracted to individuals and things they cannot readily obtain. In the case of things, people are more attracted to a coveted object because it is out of their reach. When the object of desire is finally gained, the attraction for the object rapidly diminishes.

The dating rule your mom swore by has scientific merit. An individual should not always make him or herself readily available to the person they are targeting for a long-term relationship. A certain level of unavailability will make you more of a mystery and a challenge.

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