Maximize Your Influence

Similarity: Similar Is Familiar

Similarity theory states that familiar objects are more liked than less familiar ones. The same holds true with people: We like people who are similar to us. This theory seems to hold true whether the commonality is in the area of opinions, personality traits, background, or lifestyle.  

I can remember walking in a foreign country, taking in the unfamiliar sights and sounds, and then running into someone from my own country. We could have been from opposites sides of the nation with nothing in common, but there was an instantaneous bond between us, all because we had something in common in a mutually unfamiliar place.   

Similarity is also true even in the judicial system. If jurors feel that they share some common ground with you and, better yet, like you—even subconsciously—for that similarity, then you will have a markedly better chance of winning your case. Anytime we establish something about ourselves that others will identify with, we increase our persuasive powers. In one particular study, antiwar demonstrators were more inclined to sign petitions of those similarly dressed, and often didn't even bother to read the petition before signing!   Numerous studies conclude that your audience is most responsive to individuals who dress and act similar to them.

Researchers McCroskey, Richmond, and Daly say there are four parts to similarity: attitude, morality, background, and appearance.  Of the four similarity factors, attitudes and morals are always the most important.  Power Persuaders are always looking for similarities or common beliefs to form the basis of common foundations with their prospects. We want to be persuaded by those who are like us and with whom we can relate. 

We see real-world examples of this in advertisements. We want to see people we can identify with, and the advertising execs accommodate us. When we see a particular commercial, we think, "Hey, he is just like me! He is also Broke!  That couple has a messy, cluttered house, too." We see ads showing the average Joe or Jill because they create that similarity.   

Your audience will connect with you when they perceive the similarity.  O'Keefe found two important points regarding similarity and persuasion. First, the similarity must be relevant to the subject or issue being persuaded. Second, to persuade someone, the similarities must involve positive rather than negative qualities.   The bottom line is we are interpersonally connected to others when they possess similar values and beliefs.

Direct download: Podcast_184_-_Create_An_Instant_Connect_With_Anyone.mp3
Category:sales -- posted at: 10:00am CDT