6 signs of sympathy

We all know the common truth that we treat people who attract us better than those who repulse us.To be attractive and likable to others is one of the main desires of so many people. And this life goal seems to them very worthy. What does sympathy depend on? How do physically attractive people act on us?

There are 6 factors (signs of sympathy) that influence why other people seem attractive to us: similarity, closeness, social exchange, liking us, association with pleasant things, and physical attractiveness.


People are more attractive to us the more they resemble us. This means not only that they should look like us, but that they should have similar attitudes and values ​​to ours. For example, if it turns out that a stranger likes the same films that you do, then you will most likely rate this as a plus in favor of that person. Without a doubt, you will think that this person has a refined taste.

Attitude similarity effect can be explained by social confirmation. Matching your opinion with the other person’s makes it feel like your point of view is appropriate. Thus, the other person becomes the source of such social confirmation – my own competence and adequacy becomes evident thanks to him.

Like physical attractiveness, similarity is one of the most frequently discussed factors of liking. However, it is not always clear whether the similarity is really the reason for sympathy. Feedback can also be proven. If a person is nice to us, then in the future we believe that he is similar to us. In addition, similarity is interconnected with a very simple condition under which sympathy can arise. The fact is that similar people are more likely to meet each other.

The similarity of views and interests is especially pronounced in certain ways of behavior, for example, studying the same subject, attending the same parties, playing sports in the same club, etc. Since the likelihood of meeting is perhaps the most important, albeit a simple condition of sympathy, the similarities between people and their sympathy are interrelated.

It can be argued that resemblance does cause sympathy, for example, when a person becomes prettier through the desire to be similar. In fact, a person can arouse our sympathy if he claims that he, for example, has the same point of view.

This similarity value is used in sales training programs. A person is more likely to buy from a salesperson who looks like them. Sellers are taught to pay attention to specific characteristics of potential buyers, such as backgrounds or hobbies, and subsequently indicate that they are similar. It all depends on the ability to intuitively identify such signs, for example, paying attention to the distinguishing feature of the car or the dialect of the buyer, and then demonstrate this similarity in their behavior.

Psychologists conducted an experiment in 1974 that exploited this similarity effect. In the store of records and tape recorders, it was necessary to sell a cleaner for the head of the tape recorder. When customers came up to the checkout with the selected cassettes for payment, the seller advertised this product. In some cases, he added that he liked the same music as the customers. Under this condition, sales were significantly higher than when there was no similarity.

It is not only those people who have similar views and values ​​that have a higher chance of our sympathy. Even if we have a common day and month of birth, we will become more attractive to each other. If business partners find out that their birthday is on the same day, their willingness to cooperate increases. However, this effect is significantly reduced if you specifically draw people’s attention to the insignificance and illusory nature of such general features.


People who are spatially closer to each other make friendships and enter into intimate relationships faster than those further away. To some extent, this is obvious. People who are close by are more likely to meet, and therefore they have more opportunities to meet and make friends.

In addition, people who are in spatial proximity are more similar to each other in their attitudes, marital status or preferences, for example, because they live in the same area, have the same profession, belong to the same church community, etc.

Another reason is probably less trivial. Social relationships are easier to maintain when people are closer to each other. Plus, those around us are more promising social partners. The connection with them would be justified sooner than the connection with a more distant person.

The mere expectation that we will deal with this person in the future also contributes to the development of interest and sympathy for him. This manifests itself in the so-called “anticipated interaction”.

In one experiment, subjects were asked to complete a task under the direction of an attractive leader. The study consisted of several parts, so that over the next weeks, the subjects had to meet two or three more times. Some were told that they would meet a new leader, others were told that they would work with the same one. At the end of the first meeting, the subjects had to rate how cute they thought she was. It turns out that the subjects considered the same person more attractive if they thought they would meet him again. Waiting for the next meeting makes the person more attractive.

Social sharing

More favorable are those social relations in which mutual exchange is balanced. We consider unattractive people who “take” something from us and do not “return” it. This statement is true with both economic and intimate relationships. But this effect extends to everyday interactions as well. So, for example, we consider unsympathetic a casual interlocutor to whom we ourselves have told a lot of personal information, and he, in turn, does not tell anything about himself. The level of frankness in communication should be balanced to some extent.

Sympathy towards us

We like those who like us. This effect is more powerful than other effects, such as attitudes similarity. This psychological rule is very well illustrated in Shakespeare’s play Much Ado About Nothing. Beatrice and Benedict cannot stand each other and do not miss the opportunity to enter into a skirmish. This apparent antipathy makes friends want to mate the bullies. They tell Beatrice that Benedict speaks very positively of her behind her back, and vice versa, they tell Benedict the same. Without confirming this, both perceive the other’s sympathy for themselves as real. And this turns out to be quite enough for their relationship to improve. Beatrice gives Benedict a chance, and in the end …

The importance of showing sympathy and compliments for selling was mentioned already in the 16th century in a guide to successful selling: “If customers are important to you, then be sociable, say that they have a good figure, and they make you sympathetic. They will be blinded and you can be sure of a profitable sale. And even if women are ugly and scarred, do something nice for them and it will be beneficial. ”

Salespeople are more likely to have a personal interest in customers. A significant positive effect is also ensured by the fact that the seller remembers the client’s name and uses it in the future. Here’s another example of the effectiveness of sympathy: the world’s best car salesman in 1993, according to the Guinness Book of Records, was Joe Girard from Detroit.

His habit is interesting: every month he sends his former clients – an average of about 13,000 people – greeting cards for their birthday, Christmas, Easter or Thanksgiving. The postcard contains nothing more than a congratulation and a simple sentence: “I like you.” People see that the postcards were not written by the author personally, and nevertheless … This is how they become successful car sellers and earn more than $ 200,000 a year.

Association with something positive

This is an extremely simple conclusion. Here’s an example. The movie ticket seller is more likely to like you than the cop who just gave you a parking ticket. The association of people with positive and negative circumstances can even lead to superstitious behavior. In ancient times it was customary to punish [execute] a messenger with bad news, and even nowadays one can hear reproaches against meteorologists because of bad weather. Such an association does not necessarily follow logic, at least as long as it is positive.

Physical attractiveness

Physically attractive people are endowed with positive qualities, considering them to be more sensitive, affable, open, interesting, strong, balanced, modest, sociable, talented. The people around them believe that they have a good character, greater status, get a better place of work, are happier in marriage, and generally lead a more fulfilling life.

Attractive people are seen as more versatile, receptive, cautious, confident, happy, active, outspoken, witty, reserved, and flexible. But physically attractive people do not only have an advantage in the eyes of others. They do exhibit more confident social behavior than less attractive people. So one might even conclude that physically attractive people are actually more confident in themselves.

Attributing such positive qualities has practical implications. Physically attractive people are more likely to win elections, they are more willing to get help, and they get jobs faster. They have the best chances in court. All this has been proven by appropriate experiments. In addition, they are considered less capable of crime. If the crime is proven, then the same offense in physically attractive people results in less punishment than in physically unattractive people.

However, there is an important exception. For example, one study shows that attractive lawbreakers are treated more leniently. But this effect changes if physical attractiveness played a role in the crime, for example, in the case of fraud as opposed to burglary.

An attractive fraudster can use his physical advantages to gain trust, as he has a better chance of convincing other people. In such cases, attractive criminals received more severe punishment. This shows that it is in the subtle areas of relationships where trust plays an important role that attractive people, although they have an advantage, are always taken into account when assessing their behavior.

Such research is willingly used in marketing and advertising. If a product influences people’s ratings of attractiveness, then it is worth reporting, because then the chances that the proposal will be accepted, for example, in the field of fashion, diet or cosmetics, increases. First, even without any special research, it’s safe to say that most people would rather be beautiful than ugly. The goal of being attractive is one of the needs of consumers.

Second, physically attractive people are sure to be liked by others. However, they are better suited for conveying influencing communication. They are more trusted, they are more suited to the role of advertising models, and sometimes their image is used simply to create a pleasant context.

Therefore, physically attractive photo models in advertising have always been perceived as more trustworthy and prettier. In addition, people believe that they are better at understanding the product.

Perhaps our greater willingness to believe an attractive person can be explained by the fact that we believe that attractive people themselves determine their own destiny and control it. This makes us think that such attractive people are not influenced by their own opinions. Therefore, we trust them more.

But not always. The trustworthiness advantage of physically attractive people disappears when more information about that person emerges. So, if the public considers a person to be a competent expert, then his external attractiveness no longer affects the degree of reliability with which others perceive his assessments.

In advertising, attractive communicators do not increase the benefits of all types of products. For example, when it comes to fruit juice or cheese rather than cosmetics, attractive communicators do not have much of an advantage in influencing consumer intent.

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