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5 Research-Based Hacks for Your Social Life

5 Psychology-based Shortcuts to Boost Your Social Life

Most people spend a considerable amount of time refining their behaviors and mannerisms so people will find them more likeable. That said, it's not always easy to know what makes a person likeable in the first place. Thanks to modern research, experts have gained fascinating insight into the complexities of social interaction. Here's how you can deploy some of this psychology in your social life to get the kind of reactions you desire.

  1. Leverage the serial-positioning effect. Coined by Hermann Ebbinghaus, the serial-positioning effect refers to a person's tendency to remember the very first and last things in a series better than items within the middle. There are all sorts of ways to use this hack to your advantage in social situations. For one, you can make sure to begin and end interactions with a bang. You can also find ways to end an interaction prematurely if you hit a high point unexpectedly.
  2. Avoid adding incentives. It may sound counter-intuitive, but it's generally a bad idea to use incentives to build goodwill in social interactions. This is due to the concept of cognitive dissonance, which refers to the mental discomfort people feel when their beliefs, thoughts or attitudes are not consistent with their behavioral decisions. To cope with cognitive dissonance, people tend to either adjust their beliefs or actions to create better harmony. So, if they choose to do something without receiving added incentives, people tend to resolve mental conflict by convincing themselves it was something they truly wanted to do. With this in mind, if you want to build goodwill with someone, avoid offering gifts. Likewise, if you want to ask someone out on a date, suggest dinner or drinks, instead of buying tickets to a concert or a can't-miss show.
  3. Chew gum. It may sound like a silly concept, but chewing gum can act as a performance enhancer in social situations. Research has shown that gum chewing improves selective and sustained attention, while enhancing alertness and improving overall mood. Obviously, there are certain social situations where gum chewing might be viewed as inappropriate. When possible, however, you should consider this tactic, especially if you really need to focus on what the other person is saying.
  4. Amp up the excitement. In the dating world, it's not always easy to stand out. According to research, however, you may have a better chance if you leverage the concept of arousal misattribution. Studies have shown that people tend to misattribute feelings of anxiety and fear to sexual attraction. While they can't say for sure, experts believe it has something to do with the physical similarities between the experiences - sweaty palms, increased heart rate, adrenaline rush, etc. So, the next time you ask someone out on a date, consider visiting an amusement park or go see a scary movie.
  5. Refer to people by their names. People generally come off as friendlier and more engaging when they use people's names in conversations. At the same time, our brains have a tendency to perk up any time we hear our names spoken aloud. For these reasons, people will be more likely to find you agreeable and personable if you use their names in conversation. Obviously, you don't want to overdo it, or you could come off as strange or obnoxious. At bare minimum, however, you should greet a person by his or her first name and, if possible, end the conversation the same way.

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