“Why don’t people like me?” (11 scientific reasons)

In this blog post, we talk about what may be the scientifical reasons why someone doesn’t like you.

We also give you some tips and recommendations on how to become a more likeable person. 

“Why don’t people like me?”

We all fondly remember the moment we met someone who turned out to be the best friend or the nicest person we had ever met.

In general, we only have a few seconds to make someone really want to be with us, and from this point of view some details, which we might not give importance to, might prove extremely important.

Here are some traits and behaviours that might make people dislike you, both online and in-person:

You post too much on Social Media

If you are the kind of person who posts on Facebook (on the same day) photos from your honeymoon, from the high school graduation ceremony and with your own dog dressed in a Halloween costume, then maybe it would be a good idea to take a break.

A 2013 study shows that posting too many photos on Facebook can affect personal relationships:

“This is a consequence of the fact that people, other than very close friends and relatives, do not seem to be interested in those who constantly share photos of themselves,” said David Houghton, lead author of the study,  Birmingham Business School.

In particular, it has been found that people do not like it when they are assaulted with too many photos with family relatives or friends.

Be careful when posting something on Facebook and think about how it might be perceived by those who will see it.

Although sharing personal information is often beneficial to personal relationships, it can sometimes have the opposite effect. 

You have too many or not enough friends on Facebook

In a 2008 study, researchers at Michigan State University asked students to look at some fictional Facebook profiles and decide which one they prefer.

The results showed that the favourite profiles are those of people who have about 300 friends on Facebook.

The profiles with the lowest number of likes turned out to be those of people who have less than 100 friends or who have more than 300 friends on Facebook.

The study’s authors stated the following:

“People with too many friends are perceived to be focusing too much on Facebook to increase their number of friends, and it is generally considered that the large number of friends some people have is not a consequence of their popularity.”

The students who took the assessment had an average of 300 friends on Facebook, so the researchers admit that if the survey participants had had, on average, 1,000 friends on Facebook, their favourite Facebook profile would probably have been that of a person with 1,000 friends.

Keep in mind, however, that a survey conducted in 2014 found that the average number of Facebook friends among adult users was 338.

You reveal personal aspects at an early stage of a relationship

In general, people like each other more after an exchange of confidences. As an adult, the best way to make friends is to talk about ourselves.

However, psychologists say that revealing details, such as that a relative has an extramarital affair, can make you look insecure, unserious, and affect your relationship.

As a 2013 study by Susan Sprecher of Illinois State University suggests, it is much better to limit ourselves to providing details about personal hobbies and favourite childhood memories.

Thus we will be perceived as warm and pleasant people.

You don’t talk about yourself at all

In the same study from 2013, there is an important warning: the disclosure of personal details implies reciprocity.

In general, people will not like you if you do not react in a similar way when they give you certain details about their personal life.

The study’s authors stated the following:

“Although shy or anxious people may ask questions to distract themselves, our research shows that this is not a good strategy for initiating personal relationships. In an interpersonal relationship, both participants must be open to each other, in a similar way, to generate mutual closeness and the pleasure of communicating ”.

You are using profile pictures that were taken too close

If your LinkedIn profile shows a close-up picture of your face, it would be wise to change it.

Research from the California Institute of Technology suggests that people prefer profile photos taken from a distance of about 135 cm –  to profile photos taken from a distance of only 45 cm, the latter being generally considered more unattractive, and the people less reliable. 

You hide your feelings 

Research suggests that we are more attractive to those around us if we do not hide our emotions than if we shut ourselves in without anyone else being able to understand our emotions.

“When people sense that someone is hiding their emotions, they may interpret this as a disinterest in establishing interpersonal relationships,” say the researchers.

You are too kind

Although we expect altruistic behaviour to be appreciated and admired by those around us, some studies suggest otherwise.

In general, altruistic people are interested in those around them, for their own good, and try to help them as often as possible.

However, in certain situations, such behaviour could be interpreted as a desire to owe someone something, so that this situation can be exploited later for a certain purpose.

Altruism could also be interpreted as a desire to express superiority.

Even if altruistic actions are disinterested, some people refuse help because it can induce a feeling of guilt or inferiority.

For this reason, we must limit our altruism to people who are truly willing to accept our help.

You’re not smiling

People who smile are considered more attractive than those who do not smile.

In a study at the University of Wyoming, nearly 100 students looked at photos of women:

  •  Smiling
  •  or not smiling
  •  in an open body posture and smiling
  • In an open body posture and not smiling
  • Closed body, smiling
  • Closed body, not smiling.

The results showed that, regardless of body posture, women who smiled were considered more attractive than those who did not smile.

Researchers at Stanford University and the University of Duisburg-Essen also found that students who communicated through avatars, drawings used on social media, were more attractive when they had a big smile.

Moreover, another study found that if we smile when we meet someone, that person will remember us more easily.

You act like you don’t like them

When we think we like someone, we tend to sympathize with that person.

Researchers at the University of Waterloo and the University of Manitoba have found that when we believe that people accept us as we are, we will be more careful with them and increase our chances of them to really like us.

Even if you’re not sure how the person you meet feels about you, act like you like them, and probably they’ll most likely do the same. 

You have a difficult name to pronounce

A 2012 study done by researchers at the University of Melbourne, the University of Leuven and New York University showed that we like more people with an easy-to-pronounce last name, compared to people with a difficult last name. 

In an experiment in the study, participants read an article invented by the newspaper about a man who was preparing to run in the upcoming local council elections.

For some of the participants in the experiment, the name of the man in the article was relatively easy to pronounce (Lazaridis or Paradowska), while for the other participants in the experiment the man’s name was more difficult to pronounce (Vougiouklakis or Leszczynska).

The researchers found that the participants, who read about the man with the simplest name to pronounce, considered that he was a suitable candidate for the local elections, compared to the participants who read about the man with the more complicated last name.

You casually drop the names of important personalities and institutions in conversations

It can be tempting to mention a famous author to impress your conversation partner.

But this tactic can actually have the opposite effect. 

In 2009, researchers at the University of Zurich published a paper that suggests that by including the names of important personalities or institutions during conversations, we will be perceived as less competent and less pleasant.

In one study, students at the University of Zurich communicated with their “partners” via e-mail (e-mails were generated by researchers).

In some emails, the “partner” mentioned that Roger Federer was his friend and that they worked together. In other emails, the “partner” only mentioned that Federer was friends with him.

In another set of emails, the “partner” mentioned that he or she was a Federer fan, and in other emails, the “partner” did not mention Federer’s name at all.

The results showed that the stronger the supposed connection between the “conversation partner” and Federer, the less attractive he was considered to be.

How to make someone like you?

We all care what others think of us and we want the world to like us. For this, we must be nice and behave decently.

Below you will find some simple recommendations, but which will have a great impact.

  • Say the name of the person you are talking to (let’s face it, everyone likes the sound of their own name) 
  • Smile more often
  • Practice active listening
  • Ask the appropriate questions
  • Give (sincere) compliments
  • Don’t be too critical
  • Ask for help in a polite way
  • Dare to be yourself
  • Learn some storytelling skills 
  • Lightly touch the person’s forearm during a conversation 
  • Ask for advice (we all like to feel important)
  • Improve your vocabulary
  • Be curious about the other person

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

Conclusions

In this blog post, we talked about what may be the scientifical reasons why someone doesn’t like you.

We also gave you some tips and recommendations on how to become a more likeable person. 

No matter what science says, you need to know that some people, whatever you do, still won’t like you.

This is absolutely normal, and we really don’t have to be liked by everyone. With some people, we just don’t vibe, and that’s ok, you don’t have to force a relationship.

Certainly, there are or will be in your life, people with whom you will get along very easily, people who will accept you as you are.

Please feel free to ask any questions or to leave a comment about the content. 

Recommendations

  1. How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less
  2. How to Make People Like You: Proven Strategies on Instantly Attracting Others and Winning Them Over
  3. How To Be Funny, Interesting, and Make People Like You
  4. How to Win Friends & Influence People
  5. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
  6. How to Make Anyone Like You: Proven Ways To Become A People Magnet

References 

Bryan, R., Perona, P., & Adolphs, R. (2012). Perspective Distortion from Interpersonal Distance Is an Implicit Visual Cue for Social Judgments of Faces.

Lebherz, C., Jonas, K., & Tomljenovic, B. (2009). Are we known by the company we keep? Effects of name‐dropping on first impressions.

Parks, C. D., & Stone, A. B. (2010). The desire to expel unselfish members from the group.

Stinson, D. A., Cameron, J. J., Wood, J. V., Gaucher, D., & Holmes, J. G. (2009). Deconstructing the “Reign of Error”: Interpersonal Warmth Explains the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy of Anticipated Acceptance.

Tackman, A. M., & Srivastava, S. (2016). Social responses to expressive suppression: The role of personality judgments.

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