“Of course they’ll like you! Just get out there, smile and be friendly.”
Sound familiar? The scientifc version of this (or at least one scientific version of it) is known as the Acceptance Prophecy:
If you expect people to like and accept you, they will. If you don’t, they won’t.
I know, it hardly seems fair, right? But fair or not, whether people like and accept you is largely up to you.
Think for a moment about the last time you met someone new. When someone is warm and friendly, of course you like them better than if they’re reserved and standoffish. In fact research shows that when that someone is genuinely warm and friendly to you, you can accurately detect it within 30 seconds.
Just as you respond more warmly to people who are warm to you, you also behave more warmly when you expect someone to like you. You’re more relaxed, less worried about acceptance, and therefore warmer and less reticient. This second part of the Acceptance Prophecy sounds logical, but was only recently confirmed.
Not many people are more interested in acceptance than a single, young man about to meet a single, attractive woman. In this most recent study highlighted in a recent PsyBlog post, Dr. Stinson told half a group of such men that they were about to meet an attractive woman that was nervous about meeting them. The other half were only given basic information about the woman with nothing to calm fears of rejection.
Can you guess who was more likeable? Yes, the half that weren’t worried about whether they would be rejected.
So whether worried about making friends at kindergarten or college, that new job or new business group, remember Mom’s advice. Of course they’ll like you. And that’s no old wive’s tale.