Or to put it in more scientific terms, the phenomenon is based on Darwinian theory -- namely that whole "survival of the fittest" thing he was constantly going on about. As per our built-in survival instincts, we're constantly keeping a subconscious eye out for that optimal mixture of genes. So when you see an average-looking person who has a bunch of pretty people as Facebook friends, you instinctively project their attractiveness onto that person. You don't necessarily think of him sexually -- you just sort of assume that he must have access to the good gene pool, which in turn makes him worth knowing.
The possibility of getting invited to some kind of bikini party also probably doesn't hurt.
Embarrass Yourself in Public
We devote a huge amount of our time, money and energy to not looking stupid in public. For many of us, this leads to a level of self-consciousness where we flirt with a nervous breakdown whenever we do something that's labeled "wrong" in public. You know the feeling -- all those judgmental eyes staring down at you, all haughty and acting like they've never attended the opera pantsless, with a tiny bow tie on their dong.
"It was just easier than doing it on my neck."
Fortunately, this general aversion to public humiliation offers a neat little shortcut to aspiring ascenders in popularity rankings: Scientists have found that when people see you get openly embarrassed, they tend to think of you as a nicer person.
"Sharting in interviews is the cornerstone of my career."
A bunch of Berkeley psychology researchers set up an experiment where participants were filmed while they described a very embarrassing moment in their lives. Then, other participants watched the videos and rated how embarrassing the situation was while assessing how kind they felt the people telling the stories were. The participants who were consistently rated as nicest were the ones who were visibly affected by their embarrassing situations, writhing in front of the camera as memories of the Walrus Incident of '99 tormented their brains. What's more, it worked the other way around, too: The people who did have embarrassing stories, yet chose to maintain a careful poker face while telling them, got labeled as selfish and untrustworthy.
He was elected mayor three weeks later.
Several other experiments verified that our brains indeed have a tendency to associate visible embarrassment with kindness and trustworthiness, whereas all the shame-free Mr. Cools out there end up filed in the same "do not trust" folder with used car salesmen and Internet comedy writers. It makes sense, really: Since the kind of person who gets embarrassed easily is also likely to be extra nice to others in order to avoid getting a red face, we have just sort of started viewing embarrassment itself as an indicator of trustworthiness.
So yes, by all means embarrass yourself on your next date. Just make sure you do it before you get to the bedroom.
Find more from XJ on his blog. He'll also love you for an entire minute if you follow him on Twitter. Just a minute, though.
For more ways to make people like you, check out 7 Great Products for Telling the World You're a Rich Dick. Or learn about 7 Life Altering Decisions Made For You (Before Your Birth).
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out The One Country Whose Elections Are Crazier Than the USA's
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