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Flaunting Your Flaws Will Make You More Likeable
Psychology

Flaunting Your Flaws Will Make You More Likeable

Practice makes a man perfect. But little imperfection makes you more likeable. When you are too perfect, you intimidate people. Whereas little imperfection makes you human as perfection is generally considered unattainable or superhuman.

Social theory behind the connect between imperfection and likeability

According to social psychology, being imperfect attracts more people. Clumsy mistakes, especially by achievers and people others look up to, are often enjoyed, as people can relate their heroes more when they commit silly mistakes. This is what is called the Pratfall Effect, according to which, people become more likeable when they perform an everyday blunder. The effect was first studied by social psychologist Elliot Aronson in 1966. Aronson said that people considered "superior" by others could become more attractive upon committing a small pratfall. When the so called superhuman commits a mistake, he or she becomes more human and makes people like him or her more than before.


Aronson's famous experiment

Aronson divided 48 male subjects of college age into four groups. Each group was instructed to listen to a tape recording of someone answering trivia questions as an audition for a television quiz show. The subjects listened to one of the following four scenarios:

  1. A superior person answering questions: he or she answers 92 percent of his questions correctly.
  2. An average person answering questions: he or she answers only 30 percent correctly.
  3. A superior person answering questions and committing a pratfall: He or she states that he was an honor student in high school, the yearbook editor and a member of the track team, accompanied by a voice stating "Oh my goodness, I've spilled coffee all over my new suit."
  4. An average person answering questions and committing a pratfall: He or she says that he made average grades, was a proofreader of the yearbook and had tried out for the track team but hadn't made it, accompanied by the voice stating "Oh my goodness, I've spilled coffee all over my new suit."
The conclusion

In the experiment, people considered superior were found to be more likeable if they had committed a blunder (spilling coffee on themselves).

Thus the Pratfall Effect experiment revealed that:

  • It's OK to commit mistakes.
  • If a person is generally considered smart and capable, committing a small mistake will only make him or her more attractive.
(Image Credit: Thinkstock)

(Also read: Use Robert Cialdini's 'Social Proof' Theory To Convince People Easily )

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