What makes a good first impression? When meeting someone for the first time, we usually want to leave a good impression because that would generally help us become friends with them, or potentially be their long-term romantic partner, or get a job after an interview. But what exactly do people find likable?
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Michael Dufner and Sascha Krause conducted a study in order to figure out what factors contributed to how much people like someone whom they’ve met for the first time. They recruited 139 undergraduate students, put them in groups where they knew nobody, had each person in the group introduce themselves, and then have round-robin conversations.
After each step, they had everyone rate the other members on how much they liked them. Apart from this, they had observers who watched videotapes of the conversations to see how the pairs responded to each other.
They found two behaviors as key predictors of people’s likability – agentic and communal behaviors. Agentic behaviors relate to assertive and dominant traits which would evoke confidence, while communal behaviors generally refer to congenial traits like being polite, friendly, or warm.
People with high levels of agentic and communal behaviors score high with their peers in likability. However, depending on the situation, certain behaviors would be better for a certain objective. For example, communal behaviors are better for making friends, while agentic behaviors would favor those who aim to be popular.
(Image credit: Alejandro Escamilla/Unsplash)