Dan Ariely- Less Is More: The Lure of Ambiguity, or Why Familiarity Breeds Contempt
Abstract (Via Predictably Irrational)
The present research shows that although people believe that learning more about others leads to greater liking, more information about others leads, on average, to less liking. Thus, ambiguity—lacking information about another—leads to liking, whereas familiarity—acquiring more information— can breed contempt. This “less is more” effect is due to the cascading nature of dissimilarity: Once evidence of dissimilarity is encountered, subsequent information is more likely to be interpreted as further evidence of dissimilarity, leading to decreased liking. The authors document the negative relationship between knowledge and liking in laboratory studies and with pre-and postdate data from online daters, while showing the mediating role of dissimilarity.
Excerpts (Via Predictably Irrational)
We propose that the relationship between knowledge and liking within individuals is in fact negative: that more information about any one person leads, on average, to less liking for that person. We further suggest that this relationship is due to the lure of ambiguity. At first acquaintance, individuals read into others what they wish and find evidence of similarity, leading to liking. Over time, however, as evidence of dissimilarity is uncovered, liking decreases. In short, the present investigation shows that “less is more” in interpersonal affinity.