Understanding the Liking Gap in Conversations: When People are Blind to How Interesting Others Find Them

Author: ORCID icon orcid.org/0000-0003-2385-5135
Hirschi, Quinn, Psychology - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Wilson, Timothy, AS-Psychology, University of Virginia

People underestimate how interesting others find them in conversations, a phenomenon that has been termed the Liking Gap. This likely occurs because people cannot access their conversation partners’ minds, and therefore must rely on (1) their own self-perceptions, which are often negative about their conversational abilities, or (2) lay theories about other people in order to infer how their partners view them. The present research investigated whether relying on these strategies makes people blind to the specific conditions under which other people will find them interesting. In two studies, participants who just met provided brief and detailed responses to prompts about themselves and the other person. Then, they reported how interesting they found their partners’ responses and how interesting they thought their partner found their responses. Participants underestimated their partners’ interest, particularly in regard to (1) the detailed stories they told, and (2) the stories they told about themselves. That is, other people liked detailed stories that participants told about themselves, but participants did not predict this. This research extends prior theory on the Liking Gap by showing that it can vary in magnitude according to two theoretical principles.

MA (Master of Arts)
interpersonal interaction, social perception, social interaction, meta-perception, conversation
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