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The Need for Familiarity

 

Explanations > Needs > The Need for Familiarity

Need | Example | Related to | Discussion |  So what?

 

 

Need

We all have a need for familiarity, to be able to recognize things around us and the things we encounter.

When we encounter unfamiliar things, we feel uncomfortable and are driven to make them familiar. 

Example

I see a person in the street. They look like a friend. I approach to say hello. They are not my friend. I feel confused and uncomfortable.

A person from another country finds it difficult to make friends as local people seem uncomfortable in their presence.

A botanist finds a plant in the jungle. They do not recognize it and think it may be a new species. They feel excited.

Related to

 

 

Discussion

In our everyday experience we need to cope in real time everything that we sense. We have little time to understand new things and so tend to ignore or misunderstand them. This is fine for many things, though we are always cautious about things that could be a threat.

When something is unfamiliar we hence may:

  • Try to ignore it and hope it does not cause us any problems.
  • Fit it into an already familiar pattern ('Oh, it's one of those').
  • Treat it as a potential threat and attack it.
  • Take time to understand and become familiar with it.

The last action takes the most time and mental effort, which is perhaps it is the last action we often consider. The situation will also affect this situation, for example whether we are busy, or whether the unfamiliarity is presented by a friend. However, the creation of familiarity is the basis of learning, which can be very pleasurable as

So what?

To destabilize a person when persuading them, give them something that is not familiar. Done well, this will grab their attention. Then guide them as they struggle with trying to make sense of this. To avoid reactive rejection, ensure the item is important and cannot be avoided. You can also make the item only slightly unfamiliar, making it easier for for them to learn and move forward.

See also

Perception

 

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