The Pratfall Effect - Psychological Phenomena, Changing Minds, and the Effects on increasing interpersonal attractiveness in 2021

2 min read
Last updated: Feb 28, 2021

Is spilling coffee on yourself or Falling down in public ever beneficial ???

According to social psychology, clumsy mistakes like these can give individuals an advantage more often than you might think. It’s called the Pratfall Effect and remains a highly intriguing theory in the field of social science.

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In social psychology, the pratfall effect is the tendency for interpersonal appeal to increase or decrease after an individual makes a mistake, depending on the individual's perceived ability to perform well in a general sense. An individual perceived to be highly competent would be considered more likable after committing a blunder, while a perceived average individual would be considered less likable.

— Wikipedia

When a person makes a mistake or acts in a clumsy way that might even make people laugh, they are found to be more likeable, including in comparison with people who are more intelligent and clever.

When you make a mistake, you appear more human, more like others and so more likeable. People who are perfect can seem threatening, but people who are imperfect are safe and hence easier to truly like.

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We can observe the truth of the Pratfall Effect with the famous film actress Jennifer Lawrence. Widely touted for her talent and beauty, she is also known for her gaffes, such as falling down at red carpet events and speaking brashly in interviews. Yet Lawrence is commonly considered a “down-to-earth” celebrity and regularly celebrated for her likeability.

Revelation

The Pratfall Effect experiment revealed three major social truths:

  • It’s OK to be fallible.

    • If a person is generally considered smart and capable, committing a small mistake will generally make them more socially attractive.
  • If individuals are considered average or mediocre, they are more likely to be negatively impacted by their mistake.
  • The ultimate effects of pratfalls are contextual.

    • Subsequent studies have discovered that pratfalls are perceived differently based on other factors, including gender.

Ending Note

If you want to be liked, make mistakes sometimes (or just admit to error), though do be careful to make it in an area which is unimportant and which will not make people think you are incapable in areas where they need your ability.

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