The Science of Likability: Summary & Review

the science of likability book cover

The Science of Likability lists 27 principles of likability taken from 27 social science studies.


In this summary of “The Science of Likability,” I will focus on the most significant studies that will help you become a more likable person.

#1. Determine People’s Mood

Determining people’s mood can be a great way of assessing whether it’s a good time to spend time with them, ask them for something, or whether or not it’s a good idea to interact with them at all or-

You can simply ask “how was your day” and then get a good idea by reading their body language and tone of voice.

#2. Ask Them For Favor

To turn an enemy into a friend, ask them a favor.

Cognitive dissonance dictates that they will justify the favor with the reason that they have done you a favor because they must like you.

But also, righteously notes Patrick King, don’t just ask for favors but also do people favors.

Trying to keep a balance is important because people keep track of favors and of the “social balance”.

Read more in:

#3. Eliminate Inequalities Among Friends

I really liked this point and to me, it was one of the best insights of the whole book.

Patrick King says that if you are one down in the relationship, then you should make it clear that you want to give back because you care about keeping a balance.

For example: “I can’t believe you helped me move and I forgot to take the bill the last time we saw each other. Of course, this is going to be on me”.

And if they are one down, you can remind them.
For example: “last time I got it, do you mind now evening the score”.

#4. How to Instantly Become Good Friends

Simply acting as a close friend will make you close friends much more quickly.

Don’t be afraid of discussing more personal stuff.

#5. Door in The Face & Foot in The Door

King discusses Cialdini -and mispronounces it :)- with the now popular anchoring technique and foot in the door -which is similar to the “yes ladder”.

The author also says the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive. You can first get your foot in the door and then start high in your requests to anchor a high price for your goods or services.

#6. Trust Is In The Number of Exposures

The author says that trust is often a consequence of how often we see and meet someone. 

And that’s why, the author says, salesmen keep pinging prospects: the sale didn’t happen because of a lack of trust, and pinging them increases trust.

My Note:
I didn’t fully agree here. 
Pinging is not so much to build trust but to keep prodding your prospect toward action.

#7. Show Vulnerability

The author says that vulnerability is a sign of strength and people are attracted to vulnerable individuals.

Show more vulnerability, make some mistakes on purpose and people will like you more.

My note:
I very much disagree here. 
An out-of-place vulnerability your mistake might make you more likable, but not in a good way. 
Of course, there is power in vulnerability, but only under certain conditions. And you should make mistakes on purpose only if you’re really out of everyone’s league.

Also read:

#8. Make Yourself A Constantly Pleasurable Companion

Just like Pavlov’s dog, you can “train” people to feel good as soon as they see you by giving good vibes and emotions every time you meet.

the science of likability book cover

Real-Life Applications

  • Don’t use “I guess” too often

Some people overuse the sentence “I guess”. But there is an obvious big difference between “guessing” and knowing, and when you use “I guess” too often you come across as lacking confidence, knowledge, and authority.

  • Avoid being too polite

If you are too polite -and especially brown-nosing- you come across as weak and unworthy of being listened to.
Also, check out “No More Mr. Nice Guy“.

  • You only need to win the leader over

When you need to win a crowd over, focus on the leader. To understand who the leader -or influencer is-, you can simply look at how people look when a decision needs to be taken.


I think that a few studies were not put in good perspective. I felt that the author failed to place them in a bigger picture of how social dynamics work. 

And that’s how “vulnerability makes you attractive” became “be as vulnerable as you can” -wrong- and how “mistakes can make you endearing” became “make mistakes on purpose -wrong-.

When you don’t already have a solid grasp of social dynamics it’s easy to make these mistakes.


  • Short and to the point
  • Very good for beginners
  • Some good insights even for more advanced students

I appreciated for example the idea of being upfront in wanting to “even the social score”.


I enjoyed “The Science of Likability“, but I also found some drawbacks in the way it generalized some of the studies.

In my opinion “The Science of Likability” perfectly represents why science without a good grasp and understanding of human nature can be misleading.

Based on some otherwise good research, the author, for example, recommends “doing mistakes on purpose” or “oversharing” because that will make you more approachable and make people like you more.

In my opinion, those recommendations stem from a poor overall analysis of social dynamics and, most of all, power dynamics.

Only people who are so out of everyone’s league to make them unrelatable should look into making mistakes on purpose.
And nobody should “overshare”.

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or get the book on Amazon

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