Ideas that helped make 2007 what it was

January 20, 2008 BY danariely

A few weeks ago, a paper that Mike Norton, Jeana Frost, and I wrote was selected as one of the Ideas that helped make 2007 what it was.

Aside from the fact that the NYT decided to drop Jeana and my names from the paper this was a very happy event.

The paper itself is about the idea that although people expect that the more they get to know about another person the more they will like this person, in reality familiarity breeds contempt!

Why is this the case? When we get partial information about others we tend to fill the gaps optimistically, assuming that they are just like us and that they like the same things we like. However, when we learn more about that other person we can no longer hold this optimistic interpretation, the disappointment begins, and from there on the disappointments escalate. For example, imagine that someone writes that they like music. You assume that it is the same music you like (blues) and you immediately like this blues-music-lover. But when you learn more, you discover that in fact they like jazz, and once you see one dissimilarity, everything you learn afterward is colored by that.

What is the lesson here? Sure there are some people that are worth knowing very well, but in the process of finding these individuals we will encounter a lot of heartache and disappointments.