Gus Cooney.

The liking gap in conversations: do people like us more than we think?


Boothby, E. J.
Cooney, G.
Sandstrom, G. M., & Clark, M. S.


Boothby, E. J.*,Cooney, G.*, Sandstrom, G. M., & Clark, M. S. (2018). The liking gap in conversations:do people like us more than we think?Psychological Science,29, 1742-1756.

One of the first things people wonder about after they have conversations is whether they made a positive first impression—for example, if their conversation partners liked them. In a series of experiments, we show that people systematically underestimate how much their conversation partners like them after initial interactions. We found that this mistake occurs, in part, because people are overly critical of themselves when judging their conversational performance.

One result is that even when people find their conversation partners quite likable, they underestimate how much their conversation partners like them. We found evidence for this“liking gap” in short, medium, and long conversations, in a professional sample of adults in the United Kingdom, and also by tracking college roommates for the better part of a year. Ultimately, we think the liking gap has broad implications for a variety of domains, such as the development of new relationships, team and group functioning, siloed workplaces, and conversations across group divides—all important consequences we are in the process of examining.

Interests & hobbies

Embarking on adventures through skiing, immersing myself in diverse cultures through rugs and textiles, and finding serenity in the art of surfing – these are the passion that shape my life.