Your friend's who You are

The concept of the 'ideal social self' is behind what Shoba Narayan terms as our inclination to pick friends who are almost are clones. She states, 'after much deliberation, I have come to accept the sorry truth about friendships, and it is this: After a certain age, pretty much after college, most of our friendships are class-based. Most of us end up hanging around people who are “like us” '.

Let me explain why this happens. Each individual has an image of himself or herself as a certain kind of person, with certain traits, skills, habits, possessions, relationships, and ways of behaving. As with other types of images and personality, the individual's self-image is unique, the outgrowth of that person's background and experience. Most individuals in evaluating their own images come to conclude that its not necessarily the best one around. And so they move on to conjuring ideal self images. Within the context of a social environment, these images turn into ideal social self images, ie., the way people want others to see them.

Now this is fertile ground for marketers. They can for instance, segment their markets on the basis of relevant consumer self images and then position their products or services as symbols of such self images. The consumer in all probability connects with such symbols, buys and uses such brands. This is exactly what happens when people choose friends. They choose those people as friends in whose company they reinforce their own self images. For instance, if one wants to be perceived as a 'cool customer', one tends to hang out with the airheads. As Shoba states, 'the rich hang around other rich people (or sycophants); the middle class socializes with others like them; and…you get the picture'.

Comprende?

Comments

Comfort zone...

Not a lot of people would want to step out of their comfort zone because they consider themselves safe being in that zone. Hence, we like what we find in people. And extrovert will always like another extrovert, just like an introvert would prefer to be with one.

I guess that is because of the knowledge that we have about their possible actions and statements. We always are anxious to know what might happen, but excitement comes when we know what is gonna happen.

That is probably the reason why we like being with people who are similar to us.
Tiger said…
Affirmation and reinforcement, approval and fear of being rejected make a person pick friends who are like him. But Sir I have a different opinion. People pick friends who have the same dreams and aspirations because its easy and synergitic not because they like to be friends with them. Classmates, batchmates, coaching team and so on form our first source of contacts and hence we become friendly. I don't think Comfort zone, Ideal Self hold good for all. Simply because if this were the situation each one of us would have friends who is a doctor, lawyer, engineer, movie star or something like that. People definitely have an ideal self and vision of what they want to be and project it(http://consumerpsyche.blogspot.com/2008/06/why-you-cant-trust-surveys.html) but the selection of friends is purely out of chance and not choice.
deepti said…
While it may be true that people are naturally drawn to others very like oneself, it also happens that you're attracted to the exact opposite personality type. Especially when they are different enough from oneself to be almost charismatic.
Is'nt that how many marriages happened??
Raneeth Reghu said…
Though what Sobha Narayan says about our frienships becoming class-based must be true to an extent it doest necessarily mean that this friendships are mostly with people who are "like us".

People have a social self that is actually his persona and an ideal social self that he aspires to be. As Mr. Ray points out that it is based on how we want to percieved that determines whom we hang out. This essentially means that there is a gap between our social self and the ideal social self. If we were to hang out with only those people who are like us, then we wouldnt be aspiring for the ideal social self. What would we be doing then is being happy the way we are i.e, with our actual social self and thats why we would bond with those who are " like us" and have the same actual social self.

But this is not what actually happens. People want to be associated with things that are synonymous with what they want to be, i.e., their ideal social self. therefore essentially people do not necessarily bond with people who are " like us" but perhaps with those whom we would like to be like..

That is where a marketeer becomes smart and targets his products to those aspiring for that ideal social self that is synonymous with his product offering!!

Ain't it?
Prof.Ray Titus said…
Thank you all, for your comments...

Sure, opposites attract too...as much as similars...

But if you notice, Shoba in her article, says, 'After a certain age'....seeking similars over opposites has an 'age implication'...

For the marketer however, either is fine...for him its about what you seek; if you wanna aspire for the different, he's got products for you; if you seek the similar (social self equivalent to ideal social self), he still has products for you....

Welcome to world run by marketers :)

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