Health & Well-Being

People like you a lot more than you think, according to a new study

You may not get a second chance at making a first impression—but a recent study suggests that you probably don’t need one anyway. The research, published in the journal Psychological Science, finds that people often underestimate how much another person likes them after they meet for the first time.

“I always have this sneaking suspicion that maybe my conversation partner didn’t like me or enjoy my company as much as I liked them or enjoyed their company,” says Gus Cooney, a social psychologist at Harvard University who co-authored the paper with Erica Boothby, a postdoctoral psychology researcher at Cornell University.

“Is it just me?” he wondered. “Or is it everybody?”

Cooney’s research suggests it’s the latter. The researchers ran a series of experiments in which two people met and talked for the first time, then rated their own conversational performance and the other person’s. Across conversations of varying lengths, some with topics provided and others without, the researchers found that people consistently rated their conversation partner as more likable and enjoyable to talk to than they rated themselves. Shy people were especially prone to the “liking gap,” Cooney says, but it happened across personality types.