Prefer Ignorant Fans

Tell pretty women they are smart, and smart women they are pretty. saying

We prefer to be liked, vs. disliked, but we also care about which features others most like about us.  For example, we might prefer to be liked for our sense of humor, rather than our looks.  But it seems to me that we most prefer that people who like us not know why exactly they like us.

It is of course a bad sign about someone’s opinion of you if they can’t think of any positive features of you.  It is also a good sign about their devotion if they sometimes try to make sure you know that you have good features.  But we would be disappointed and even disturbed to learn that someone knew that how much they liked us was captured by a particular known formula referring to objectively measurable features, no matter what those features were.

Someone who knew exactly where you and other folks ranked on their quality scale, and who could easily track how those rankings changed with time will know how much they like you more or less as your features changed.  Even if you are their favorite person at this moment, the odds are that someone else will soon outrank you.

In contrast, consider someone who has had a lot of contact with you, and who knows mainly that they like you, but not why exactly they like you.  This person will have more trouble finding someone else that they like more than you.  In this case you are more of an experience good, that has to be experienced to be evaluated.  If it is expensive to experience other folks enough to know their attractiveness, you have more confidence that you will continue to be one of their favorite people.

(From a conversation with Amanda Budny.)

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