5 Innocent Things That Science Says Make People Hate You
It seems like everyone these days is just waiting for an excuse to hate you. There's the obvious stuff: your stupid clothes, your ugly hair, that dumb thing you do when you laugh (God, what is up with that? It sounds like somebody kicked a walrus in the neck). But your many glaring personality flaws aside, sometimes the deck is just plain stacked against you for reasons you would never expect, much less think to avoid ...
Your Profile Picture Is Too Close Up
Every online service practically demands that you have a close-up photo of your own face on your profile, if only to assure people that you're a real human being and not a penis-extender-hawking robot. The unfortunate truth is that not only do those close-ups show your blemishes in all of their hideous glory, but they also make you look less trustworthy and less attractive.
Researchers at Caltech performed several experiments measuring the relationship between proximity and likability. In one, they had volunteers judge photographs of people who were either 2 feet or 7 feet from the camera -- the same people, the same expression, the same clothes, and the same general aura of "This better not turn out to be a porn audition ... again." They found that the participants disliked the subjects more the closer they got to the camera. And it wasn't skewed by subtle differences in the photos. In another experiment, they merely warped a person's picture so that it seemed like he was closer to the camera:
If you look rapidly back and forth between the two photos, it will make you puke.
It's the exact same photo, slightly tweaked to make the man on the left seem closer to the viewer, and even then, people still believed that the man in the altered photo was less trustworthy, less attractive, and less competent, and probably smelled like diapers, too. It's a lot of dislike just from a straight-up profile shot, is what we're saying.
Researchers believe this has something to do with how our brain handles personal space. Even if it's just a picture, your subconscious doesn't like it when someone's standing too close to you, getting their mouth-air all up in your me-bubble. On some deep, stupid, primal level, our brain treats people in close-up photos like close-talkers, and shuns them accordingly -- or hey, maybe we just like people we perceive as farther away because it's less likely they'll hit us up for money or talk to us about politics.
Shit, that's her "We have to talk" face. Run!
You Don't Open Your Eyes Wide Enough
Quick: Imagine somebody giving you "bedroom eyes." What do they look like? Kind of a half-open, come-hither stare, right? All right, now -- no, stop. Don't imagine them undressing and worshiping at the temple of your own genitals. The exercise is over! Jesus, you're pretty hard up, aren't you? Has it been a while?
Unfortunately, your "sexy" half-open gaze might be the reason for your dry spell. The truth is that the smaller others perceive your eyes to be, the less they like you. Researchers conducted a study on several hundred men and women and gave them two pictures to look at. Both photos were of the same man, but one had the man's eyes fully open, the other slightly closed. There was no subtle difference in expression: They Photoshopped the pictures to ensure that every single element, down to the individual hairs, were identical.
"Hi, I'm Chad. Would you like to get some coffee?"
"Who I am is of no concern. EAT COFFEE!"
Then they asked volunteers a series of questions about the person in the photograph: Does he look like he'd want a long-term or short-term relationship? Would he make a good neighbor? Does he seem like a good business partner? Does he seem safe to travel with? Do you think he'd flush after using the bathroom at a bar?
Women agreed that the squinting man was more likely interested in a short-term fling, but in every single category, the man with the wider eyes was rated higher: more trustworthy, more likeable, more stable, even more attractive. So why do we even have such a thing as "bedroom eyes"? Well, the scientists believe that wider eyes are more closely associated with youth, so a narrowed gaze might indicate sexual maturity. It's just that, according to lead researcher Daniel Kruger, your come-hither stare isn't worth it and "can come back to bite you."
"Wait, are you trying to seduce me or blame me for something?"
So there you go, Science said it: Next time you want to woo a member of the opposite sex, just open your eyes as wide as you can and stare at him or her, unblinking. That's pure trustworthy sexiness, right there.
You're Slightly Androgynous
The decreasing divide between genders is definitely a good thing, and one of the first stepping stones toward a truly equal world. In theory. In practice, researchers have found that being too gender neutral and ambiguous can actually make you seem less likable and less trustworthy -- and not just to bigots. No matter how progressive you are, it turns out that, deep down, nobody likes your androgynous haircut. Everybody really just wants to know what sex gear you're packing as soon as possible, even if they have absolutely no personal interest in learning how to use it.
Think this doesn't affect you? Maybe your personal life is based solely around your own aggressive gender bias -- all Tapout shirts or pink skorts with frills about the ankles? Well, how about your Internet avatars? Are they all straight-up pictures of your prominently displayed junk, or are some of them maybe an obscured photo, a movie still, a band you like, or a funny drawing? Yeah, that's going to come right around and bite you in your completely sexless ass.
In one study, researchers had participants evaluate the likability, credibility, and trustworthiness of people they were chatting with in an online setting. Each person had a different avatar: One was an antiquated female stereotype, another was slightly more androgynous, and the last was a ketchup bottle with a face, because Science got bored that day.
Three's Company meets Naked Lunch.
In all cases, the participants were more likely to evaluate the clearly female avatar as the most positive, likable, and trustworthy, regardless of the nature of their interactions. Second was the pixie cut, then the ketchup bottle. But in all fairness, that ketchup bottle does look mad sketchy:
Don't move. It can sense your fear.
Oh, but we don't mean to imply that this is solely an Internet issue: In another study, researchers prepared three different offices -- one owned by a chauvinistic manly man with posters of naked women and giant trucks and such, another owned by a progressively minded man with posters for breast cancer awareness and probably some flowers or something, and a third with no posters at all. They had female participants take tests in one of the three rooms after telling them that they'd be working in a man's office.
Researchers found that the women who had previously rated themselves as sensitive to sexism were more likely to get lower scores in the progressive and neutral offices than in the sexist office with the soft-core-porn posters. They were more unnerved to be working in the office of a man they couldn't immediately categorize via outdated, exaggerated stereotypes than that of a "progressive" man, or even just one who hasn't had time to decorate.
Just realize the message you're sending with this type of decor, guys.
Seriously, who puts up posters in their office?
Your Voice Is Too Masculine (for Men) or Feminine (for Women)
According to pop culture, the perfect guy has a deep, soothing rumble of a voice that spills out of his mouth like a landslide, and the perfect girl communicates exclusively via coquettish, youthful squeaks. That's the ideal we all subscribe to, wearing our pricey voice augmenters and taking all those voice-enhancement supplements the spam keeps selling us -- all in the name of trying to conform to the part we think we should play. But researchers have found that, despite what society tells us, people actually don't like the stereotypical masculine and feminine voices. At least not when it comes to relationships. In a study by McMaster University, researchers recorded feminine and masculine voices, then altered them to make versions that were higher (for the women) and lower (for the men). They had these voices make short, neutral sounds, like "aah," "ooh," and "touch it."
Why is this image after that sentence so disturbing?
Then they brought in participants of both sexes and had them listen to the voices and rate them on their respective attractiveness. Scientists found that men rated the more feminine, high-pitched voices as the least datable, while women did the same for the more masculine, low-pitched voices. It gets weirder: Without knowing anything else about the person, both sexes believed that the owners of the voices at either end of the spectrum were not only less datable, but also the most likely to cheat on their partner. Seems awful specific just for the pitch of a voice, doesn't it?
There's a reason for it: Men with the lowest voices are also men with the highest testosterone, which bestows a tendency to run around and cheat; and for women, those with the highest pitches had the most estrogen, which made them more "adventurous" as well. Researchers believe that the dislike of both deep and high voices evolved to stop us from getting together with less loyal mates.
Sorry, opera fellows.
Hey, there's a reason why James Earl Jones and Barry White had multiple marriages.
You're Too Nice
Jesus. Don't talk too deep, don't stand close to anybody, don't squint your eyes, don't cover your genitals -- what can you do? Are people really influenced by all this trivial crap? Whatever happened to just being a nice person and letting people like you for that?
That's still an option! The worst option.
"Let me help you up out of there, you dumb whore."
To study the nature of "niceness" and likeability, researchers had participants play a computer game with five other players, who, unbeknownst to them, were actually computers with pre-programmed personalities. Three of the four were average players -- not too nice, not too mean -- and they played the game fairly. The fourth player, however, would vary between either excessively selfish or exaggerated selflessness -- either flipping the proverbial board after every game, or throwing themselves on the carpet so the player didn't get their shoes dirty when they went to use the bathroom.
Afterward, scientists asked the participants how much they'd like to play with those "people" again. The experiment was actually meant to study how we punish cheaters -- the good guy was only put in there as a control -- but researchers found that people were actually just as unwilling to play with the nice guy as with the jerk, because they believed that the player had ulterior motives, or that their crazy, unrealistic goodness made the participant look bad by comparison.
"Whoa, you think you're better than me now?"
That's not to say that being a good person is a bad move or anything: You just can't be so good that other people feel bad about themselves for being around you. People only dislike the nice guy if they think he's "raising the bar" for everybody else via his impeccable, shining visage. It's better to be perceived as an average person, with your own set of relatable human faults. But if you're still dead set on being so blasted "generous" and "giving," at least remember to mix it up: For every four good deeds, reach up and just smack somebody in the mouth.
That's the secret to popularity.
For more reasons you're probably screwed, check out 5 Reasons Being Single Sucks Even More Than You Thought and 5 Random Factors That Determine Whether You Succeed in Life.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out The 5 Least Anticipated TV Shows of January 2013
And stop by LinkSTORM to learn why your parents probably hate you too.
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