Thoughts on the “Liking Gap”

two senior women chatting on bench

There was an interesting blog recently posted by The British Psychological Society that discussed the Liking Gap.  It turns out that while most of us are unrealistically optimistic about many things such as our better-than-average sense of humour, the majority of us tend to under-estimate how we come across socially.  This is defined as the Liking Gap and it turns out the the shyer the person, the bigger the Liking Gap.

One explanation provided by the blog is the different expectations held by the speaker and the listener (supposedly a stranger).  Speakers have a natural bias to review what they said, see mistakes and resolve to do better next time.  They hold themselves to a high standard.  Meanwhile listeners have no idea of the performance hopes of the speaker and have usually low expectations at the outset.  So whereas speakers are thinking that they have failed to live up to their ideal, listeners are thinking that it could have been much worse.

Here is another explanation.  One of the great myths of life is that opposites attract.  While this may be true in the realm of physics it does not hold in human relations.  Studies have shown that marriages last if the partners have similar personalities while it is personality differences that led to more friction and conflict in daily life.

The 7MTF model has seven components; for most people two components are strong, three are average, and two are weak.  There 21-two component combinations so for most people there is a 28% chance that you will have an overlap of one component when you meet a stranger.  In such a situation you just act naturally and will get on well.

On the other hand, 72% of the time there will be no overlap, indeed there can be personality dissonance.  This occurs when there is emotional conflict between two components.  For example the multi-tasking Socialiser is uncomfortable with the project-focused Engineer.  The decisive Politician is uneasy with the hesitant Doublechecker.  The perfectionist Regulator is ill at ease when dealing with the flexible GoGetter.  Very few people realise that the most common yet unvoiced objection is “I don’t like you.”

As the chance of emotional connection is 1/3rd the likelihood of an emotional disconnect is it surprising that most people with experience believe there is a Liking Gap.

This blog first posted on LinkedIn 26/11/18.


Add Your Comment

Chris Golis - Author


"Put in a sales perspective, I loved your presentation! I got a lot from what you talked about and I will read your book."

Peter Morris, Executive Officer, Lomax Financial Group

Your presentation on 'Lifting your Level of Emotional Intelligence" to 10 CEOs scored an average 8.9 out of 10 for the topic and 8.5 for the presentation which is great. A couple of the attendees gave you a 10 out of 10, and the comments were:

- Great presentation. Very informative.

- Excellent presentation.

- made me think.

Christi Spring CEO Institute. - web