We Like People Who Like Us

What attracts?

What attracts?

Just knowing that someone likes us spurs attraction to them.

In one experiment a young woman acted interested in men via eye contact, leaning toward them, and listening attentively. Afterward, the men said they liked her very much.

In fact, “liking” — or not — can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If you expect someone won’t like you, you probably won’t act like you like them. And then they won’t like you. This has been borne out in experiments, too. 

One of the best ways to draw people to you is to act interested in them.

And not be preoccupied with how you are coming across.

I recently had a dialogue with a young man who worried about how he came across. He was wondering if practicing among psychologists — who could give honest feedback — would help.

I’m not so sure.

That would heighten self-consciousness, which is unattractive.

Plus, we tend to perform worse at pretty much any task when we are distracted by “how we look” — because our attention is divided.

It’s much better to think about others instead of ourselves. The most charming among us try to make other people feel comfortable and good about themselves.

If you act interested in me, then you seem really charming.

Caring and empathy are the key.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on November 3, 2014, in psychology, relationships and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 50 Comments.

  1. is this more physiological theory – That’s was my feeling upon reading your article!

  2. If someone is attracted towards me, I dont feel, even I would have any likings towards them like they would have. I may or may not have it but yes, if someone doesn’t like me than I may eventually have same feeling for them!

    • We often aren’t aware of how much other people liking us affects how much we like them, or how much we find them attractive. But when people don’t realize that researchers are studying this, they find that people rate “liking” higher when the person has acted like they liked them. And this is more about liking rather than sexual attraction.

  3. I wonder if it’s true between hetero women, as well.

  4. This is excellent advise for daily living…

  5. When I was doing voluntary work, making other people feel comfortable and good about themselves played a very large part in what I was doing. It was a very rewarding experience.

    “It is nice to be nice.”

  6. The key is to be likeable (is that a word?).
    As a guy, this means being confident, charming, polite, an active listener, and empathetic.
    But, we all have our key turn ons…I like a woman that is intelligent above and beyond all else. Great character. Then personality. No she does not have to smile all the time.
    I do think it various between genders.

  7. I have a mixed feeling. I was expecting much more from the title. I feel there were obviously things wrong as far as far what some of the guys said. For example, the guy walking along with her for 5 minutes, that was definitely creepy. The guy asking for her number walking along, bad. Stuff like that. The guy that said “god bless you mami” aggressive and not right. EVen the “damn!”, not good. Guys don’t realize, that can be threatening, with such an aggressive remark. The one where the guy says something about the eagle, which is on her butt, not good. That’s fine and all. I don’t understand though why she had to lump it all together though. There were some where, a guy passing by said “have a good evening”. There was “hi beautiful”. But others that were simply “Hi”, “how are you doing” and such, and they got put into here like lumped into, as harassment. So compliments, innocent ones or a simple hi or greeting harassment too even if passing by.

    Can’t blame her reaction to the previous stuff I mentioned. But the whole walk, her face, kind of snobbish. Society seems to be more antisocial, more and more. Girls that can’t keep their eyes off their iphones when walking at stores or streets. earplugs listenng to music, just stuck on their phones, instragram, selfies,etc, that puts up a shield in many place other than the street.

    • Well, guys who catcall aren’t acting like they like her. And women who have experienced this know that. These guys are treating her like a sex object, who exists to please them, and who enables them to demonstrate to each other how manly they are (meaning “not gay”). And it feels threatening. The exact opposite of what I’m talking about.

      So I don’t see her as snobbish. If you act friendly it just encourages them.

      But thanks for the link to the video that you sent in a separate comment. Haven’t seen it but I will be writing about it.

      • “These guys are treating her like a sex object, who exists to please them, and who enables them to demonstrate to each other how manly they are (meaning “not gay”)”

        I think they are just trying to get her attention. They want to chat with her. This happens all the time in minority communities. It is so interesting how White women see this as opposed to Black women

      • Well there’s plenty of research that says men cat call for other reasons, Which I have written about.

        If they were just being friendly women wouldn’t feel so fearful.

      • But no one attacked her or even threatened her!!! Yes, women are attacked by men. No argument. But, I think to say it is often or frequent is simply untrue. ALL violent crime against women is down over 80% since 1980. This according to FBI data. So, why all the fear if attacks are down so dramatically? It just seems to me this frenzy has been intentionally created by ultra feminists. It simply does not square with reality.

      • Even though violent crime against women is sharply down since 1980, it still happens too often. Women don’t know who they can trust. And the behavior is not respectful. Also, the intent of the staring, commenting is often to intimidate, as well.

        I write this blog to try to help people gain empathy and understand one another.

        Instead of increasing empathy, some of my readers just want to find excuses to dislike or hate women and blame them for men’s problems.

        I’m not interested in giving them a platform for complaining about how horrible women are — especially when they make zero effort to see things from our perspective.

      • Yeah I agree, but some guys just said hi and such, and it was when passing by. Yet, compliments or such stuff got put in the catcalling category which I don’t agree with. The video by doing that made it seem, simply talking to a woman when passing in the street is street harassment. She didn’t even acknowledge men saying hi and had this pissed off look the whole time. I think you should watch the clip before you write about street harassment as, you’ll get to see what I’m talking about. It’s caused quite a debate unfortunately with guys commenting about how some of the things were innocent yet the men villified. I saw women commenting and they didn’t think the “hi” “hi beautiful” how are you doing as harassment and as compliments. While some other women thinking everything is bad it seems.

      • She is an experienced this isn’t being friendly. Men are bigger and stronger than women and are more violent on average. It’s actually threatening situation for women that is very difficult for a man to understand.

    • I just do not comprehend this fear of ALL men women possess. Yes, you are right: we have become extremely antisocial here in America. It borders on sheer lunacy.
      The video was extremely racist in its overtones.
      Yes, men are no longer able to say anything to women these days. Yet, we are still the ones who must approach. Go figure.
      As for the woman in the video, I cannot figure out why any man would want to say anything to her. Look at her body language and facial expression. The vibes are clearly negative.

      • You have no idea what it is to be a woman walking in this sort of situation.

        Women have fear because women are so often attacked by men. If men stop attacking, women wouldn’t need to be fearful.

        And if we had gender equality we wouldn’t expect men to take leadership in approaching women.

  8. Powerful to know. Often, it’s so easy to worry about what others think, which can create an anxious vibe and garner the opposite result of what we might be hoping for, which is to be liked. I’m going to keep this in mind the next time I want an interaction to go well.

  9. This is true people dont like to live in the edge be there own person and just be lonley once in a while were to scared that being alone will make us look weird or well be labled. I believe its dumb and retarted if someone doesnt have friends all the better for them less drama issues they got there own issues everyone got there own issues and sometimes having peiple around kills that vibe

  10. “She is an experienced this isn’t being friendly. Men are bigger and stronger than women and are more violent on average. It’s actually threatening situation for women that is very difficult for a man to understand.”

    Good thing I don’t live in a big city. I’ve looked at and smiled and said hi when passing by a woman or women before in the parking lot or outside and they said hi back. It’s called being friendly or common courtesy. I get it can be threatening, but women shouldn’t pain a broad stroke and feel every thing is threatening or any man saying anything in the street is bad or dangerous. I get the aggressive comments, but just hi or how are you? I wouldn’t be surprised if the woman in the video is as unfriendly at the supermarket, etc too.

    “Women have fear because women are so often attacked by men. If men stop attacking, women wouldn’t need to be fearful.

    And if we had gender equality we wouldn’t expect men to take leadership in approaching women.”

    I read that more sexual assaults happen to women from men they know. So it’s more likely for a woman to be raped by someone she knows than a complete stranger. Not that women don’t have to fear stranger men. And while men aren’t raped, men are more likely to be attacked or mugged by strangers than women.

    http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/SDVV.PDF

    • There is a difference between being friendly and undergoing what this woman goes through on a daily basis.

      And it’s true that most women who are raped or raped by men they know. That doesn’t make strangers any less scary and risky. And when a man follows the woman for 10 minutes that’s clearly hostile, scary and threatening.

      I write this blog to try to help people gain empathy and understand one another.

      Instead of increasing empathy, some of my readers just want to find excuses to dislike or hate women and blame them for men’s problems.

      I’m not interested in giving them a platform for complaining about how horrible women are — especially when they make zero effort to see things from our perspective.

      • What she goes through on a daily basis. I’m not saying it’s fine that men harass her. But the video seems to be deceiving. She walked through the hood and in huge NYC, and walked for 10 hours, which means she walked by probably thousands of men, and yet had 108 cat calls and some we innocent compliments. That’s a very low percentage of comments and means most men weren’t saying anything to her through the city for such a quick clip and amount shown.

        The problem is she mixed the friendly with harassment and makes it seem men simply talking to her is harassment. “Saying have a nice evening” when passing by is not harassment. Unless it’s a woman who feels anything a man says or saying a thing to her is harassing her. You say it’s because of patriarchy that women don’t initiate and approach men. But seeing how things are today and this, I wonder if it’s simply more so women not really that interested in meeting men and feel much urge. Seeing this woman’s action and body language and facial expression just from “hi”, that she’s probalby just as “cold” and unfriendly or anti-social at a bar, grocery store or most places even outside of the street.

      • When women are bombarded by harassment it’s hard to make a distinction between something that might be friendly and something that is not. I watched the video and I didn’t find any of it to be friendly. It all felt threatening to me. I would behave the same way as she did.

        Apparently, it’s something that can be extremely hard for men to understand. Why don’t you try to give it a try?

  11. I really enjoy this blog. It reminds me of myself. Now that I’m back in the dating world it seems so scary. I met a guy and was unsure about how he felt about me, because of the negative vibe I felt when I met him. Since I didn’t vibe a liking for him I begin to have negative energy I know he felt. So I just never called that guy again. I know we all have felt this way at some point of our lives. now this new guy I really liked and felt he liked me too. All he did was gave me a nice smile and my heart just melted. I too only like people that likes me. I remember shopping at Walmart and the cashier was so rude to other people. When it was my turn in line I found myself being mean to her because how she was mean to the one that was before me.

  12. Very well said..I agree..”Caring and empathy are the key.”…. 🙂

  13. “If you are interested in me, then you have good taste!” 😀
    Nice one, Georgia. Best wishes, Aquileana 😀

  14. the guy in passing said have a nice evening. Like he saw she was pretty, didn’t have the balls to try conversing but thought he’d try and say something and nice and greet her to see if she’d respond to him. That’s what I take out of it. It can feel good for a man just for a pretty woman to smile or accept his greet even if it’s just that. I wouldn’t say anything, because I’d see the look on her face and know she doesn’t want to talk. But sometimes, I’d want to talk to someone who looks upset to see if I can cheer them up. I think one guy did say hi simply as well and she brushed him off.

  15. I thought this entry to be interesting on account that I work in customer service and it is my job to make others feel better and good about themselves. I thought it was also interesting to read that the best way to draw people to you was to show interest in them. Working with customers on a daily basis we are always encouraged to ask how the customer is doing, ask how their day is going and so forth, in order to make the process of checking out more than an errand but rather a friendly conversation with a stranger. The customer begins to show interest back in you and continues the conversation building a stronger connection between the two, and encouraging the customer to come back just to see you. Working in customer service it is your job to make the customer like you so they will have a good memory of you and the store and it’s great customer service in this case it is in the stores best interest to think of the person shopping instead of ourselves and trying to make them feel welcome and good about themselves.

  16. I like this post. I agree with the message of putting others first by initially acting interested in a person which can increase the pace of a relationship. i have often been in the situation when a meet an attractive and a non attractive female and in both occasions sometimes when i had shown the comfortability to mingle with them with and show very little shyness, makes the encounter more pleasant and enjoyable. This act seems simple which is correct, it is but when i initially heard about it i never really thought about how much taking the first step sometimes makes all the difference. Of coarse this can be relevant toward relationships but it is also very true with how people interact in general

  17. This article is so warm! Yes, it might be true. If someone likes me and is kind to me, I think I will also like and respect him or her. Needless to say, it is not only about sexual relationships, but also about all other relationships. Unless our mind give people we like burden, they will respect us. I really hope so! 🙂

  18. I agree and disagree with the article. Its nice to be nice most definitely but more for your self then others. I feel like being nice is very self rewarding and makes you feel better about yourself and the way you act. Usually when you are rude or unpleasant it gives u a sense of guilt afterwards for acting in that manner. Problem is being nice doesn’t always return that favor. Often people take being nice wrong and a way of intruding ones private space. Engaging in conversations with a stranger or giving a female compliments usually doesnt go to well for straight males. Many females feel creeped out or give a dead response when you try talking to them which causes many men to not want to use that approach. In our minds we are just trying to have a simple conversation and be nice but thats not the response we receive. Its nice to be nice, but only for your self and the self rewarding experience.

  19. Cristina Cibrian

    After reading the title of this blog, “We Like People Who Like Us,” I automatically thought that it makes sense. People generally like people who like them and don’t like people who don’t like them. I then found that I have an example from my own life. A friend of mine told me that our other mutual friend did not like me. I immediately became defensive and subsequently didn’t like her in return. However, I ran into her one day and was nice. After, my friend told me that our mutual friend changed her mind and decided she now liked me, I immediately no longer had a problem with her. I did not notice the correlation until I read the article. I also agree with the blog when it states that if you assume a person won’t like you then you will not act like you like them in return. Although, I do believe that this may be subconscious as the person may not realize their actions in the moment. However, on the other hand, people may try really hard in order to get someone to like them even more.

  20. Well, I do agree and disagree with the article based on my own experience. First, indeed I do like people who like me too. I actually feel more comfortable with them specially when I am sure that they wont misunderstand me and I will do my best to improve my relationship with them. But on the other hand, some people thought I was weird for being so nice, for instance, smiling at a stranger on the street, or offering help. I have seen the reaction that they will refuse it or at least not smile back. Some people took me for granted for liking them, even worse, some people took it as a weakness as if I am trying to impress them, when in fact, I was trying to be nice for the sake of making my day better by positively effecting someone else’s day.

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