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Reinforcement-Affect Theory

 

Explanations > Theories > Reinforcement-Affect Theory

Description | Example | So What? | See also | References 

 

Description

Classical Conditioning (learning by association) leads us to like people who are nearby when we feel good. Even if they were not involved in making us feel good, after a while we will associate them with the good feeling such that whenever we see them we feel good.

Operant Conditioning (learning by consequences) leads us to like people who reward us. Rewards can include being friendly towards us, smiling and generally acting positively towards us.

Example

Notice how politicians and other would-be leaders always turn up at rah-rah events, parties and award ceremonies, pressing the flesh and smiling like mad.

So what?

Using it

Find out where the other person gets to feel good (eg. at racetrack, dances etc.) and just be there. Tell them what a great time they are having. Use other liking-related stimuli such as similarity.

Defending

Just because people are around when you are having a good time does not mean they are your friends. Even being nice to you does not make them your friend. The best test of friendship is when they have everything to lose and nothing to gain.

See also

Classical Conditioning, Operant Conditioning

References

Byrne and Clore (1970)

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