Good Friends, Good Times and Good Business: The Propinquity Effect

If you study some of your long lasting friendships forged during college, you may notice that some of your friends lived in or around your dorms on campus.

We form friendships with the people we encounter on a frequent basis.
Psychologists call this the “Propinquity Effect”.

In college, you cannot help but constantly run into many of the people who live in your dorm during your freshman year. The novelty of (semi) independent living mixed with the abundance of people who share many of your interests and tastes encourages the growth of friendships.

A related notion is the “Mere Exposure Effect”: Our attraction to a particular person or item tends to increase every time we encounter it.

Alas, there is a caveat. Attraction only increases if no “environmental spoiling” occurs during the interaction. In other words, subjects must not encounter unwanted emotions or stimuli as a result of meeting with the person or item in question.

Ex: Every time I run into John, he is rude to me or engages in annoying behavior. I will avoid him instead of establishing a friendship.

What’s the takeaway?

One of the most effective means of ingratiating yourself to a group or individual is maintaining frequent contact . Find a way to converse or interact with them on a consistent basis without being a nuisance or a pest. If you cannot meet with friends (or clients) physically, send them something of value through email on a consistent basis. The old adage, “out of sight. ought of mind”, is worth remembering here.

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