Most friendships develop so naturally that you don’t even realize how or when they started.
Sometimes, though, you want to make an effort to befriend a new acquaintance or become a better friend to existing pals.
To help you out on that front, we scoured the psychological research to find science-backed strategies to get people to like you.
Read on to find out how to develop better relationships faster.
This is an update of an article originally written by Maggie Zhang.
1. Copy them
This strategy is called mirroring, and involves subtly mimicking the other person’s behavior. When talking to someone, try copying their body language, gestures, and facial expressions.
In 1999, New York University researchers documented the “chameleon effect,” which occurs when people unconsciously mimic each other’s behavior, and that mimicry facilitates liking.
Researchers had 78 men and women work on a task with a partner, who was really a confederate working for the researchers. The partners engaged in different levels of mimicry, while researchers secretly videotaped the interactions. At the end of the interaction, the researchers had participants indicate how much they liked those partners.
Sure enough, participants were more likely to say that they liked their partner when their partner had mimicked their behavior.
2. Spend more time around them
According to the mere-exposure effect, people tend to like things that are familiar to them.
Knowledge of this phenomenon dates back to the 1950s, when MIT researchers discovered that college students who lived closer together in housing projects were more likely to be friends than students who lived farther apart.
This could be because students who live close by can experience more passive, day-to-day interactions with each other, such as greeting each other in the common room or kitchen. Under certain circumstances, those interactions can develop into full-fledged friendships.
More recently, psychologists at the University of Pittsburgh had four women pose as students in a university psychology class. Each woman showed up in class a different number of times. When experimenters showed male students pictures of the four women, the men demonstrated a greater affinity for those women they’d seen more often in class — even though they hadn’t interacted with any of them.
Taken together, these findings suggest that simply spending more time with people can make them like you more. Even if you don’t live near your friends, try sticking to a steady routine with them, such as going out for coffee every week or taking a class together.
3. Compliment other people
People will associate the adjectives you use to describe other people with your personality. This phenomenon is called spontaneous trait transference.
One study found that this effect occurred even when people knew certain traits didn’t describe the people who had talked about them.
If you describe someone else as genuine and kind, people will also associate you with those qualities. The reverse is also true: If you are constantly trashing people behind their backs, your friends will start to associate the negative qualities with you as well.
4. Be in a great mood
Emotional contagion describes what happens when people are strongly influenced by the moods of other people. According to a research paper from the Ohio University and the University of Hawaii, people can unconsciously feel the emotions of those around them.
If you want to make others feel happy when they’re around you, do your best to communicate positive emotions.