Can Having More Knowledge About a Person Lead to Less Liking?
Imagine that you are creating an online profile of yourself. Would it be
better to have a brief description or to provide a considerable amount of
information about yourself? You may think it would be better to provide a
great deal of information about yourself because it would make it more
interesting. On the other hand, a significant number of people who read the
profile may perceive that they are dissimilar to you. A briefer description
may be less interesting, but it may also result in less perceived dissimilarity.
Less perceived dissimilarity may lead to greater liking.
Norton, Frost, and Ariely (2007) proposed that there is a negative
relationship between knowledge and liking. They found evidence in some
studies that having more knowledge about a person can lead to less liking of
the person. For example, in Study 5, some participants were asked to make
judgments about a person they were going to go on a date with. Other
participants in the study were asked to make judgments about a person they
had recently gone on a date with. In Study 5, they found that the predate
judgments of liking and similarity were higher, on the average, than the
postdate judgments of liking and similarity. Also, in this study, predate
judgments of knowledge about the person were lower, on the average, than
postdate judgments of knowledge about the person. Thus, it is possible that
greater knowledge about a person after a date leads to lower liking because
the person is perceived to be less similar to oneself. (1)
Norton, Frost, and Ariely (2007) proposed that dissimilarity cascades as
you gain more information. They found evidence supporting this idea. In
Study 4, participants who indicated that the first trait of a person was
dissimilar to themselves found fewer similarities in the next nine traits than
participants who indicated that the first trait of a person was similar to
Having more knowledge about a person may not always lead to less liking.
Two persons who have much in common may increase their liking for each
other as they gain more knowledge of each other. At first, they may not be
aware of how similar they are. As they gain more knowledge about each
other, perceived similarity may increase. The increase in perceived similarity
could increase liking. Moreover, two persons who have been friends for a
significant amount of time may learn to accept any perceived differences.
Thus, gaining more knowledge about differences may not decrease liking for
two persons who are good friends.
1. See their article for other findings.
Norton, M . I., Frost, J. H., & Ariely, D. (2007). Less is more: The lure of
Ambiguity, or why familiarity breeds contempt. Journal of Personality
and Social Psychology, 92, 97-105.