The science behind why you vibe with certain people

by | Jun 10, 2021

“I’m sorry but we just don’t vibe.”

Does this sentence sound familiar? Ever wondered what someone meant when they used the word “vibe” to justify why the both of you could or could not get along?

As we enter a new chapter of our lives post-secondary, we have definitely struggled with connecting or vibing with certain individuals.

Navigating friendships and bonds with others in a new environment has never been easy, especially now with most of our interactions moving online.

Through this article, we attempt to provide an explanation behind vibing with people.

What does “vibe” mean?

In today’s context, the word “vibe” is thrown around a lot in conversations. For example, “that person gave me really weird vibes” or “I love the vibe of this new cafe”.

The term “vibe check” also gained popularity in recent years. When asked what a “vibe” is, most people would be unable to come up with an exact answer.

What exactly is a “vibe” then?

According to Merriam-webster, “vibe” refers to a “distinctive feeling or quality capable of being sensed” and “to be in harmony”

How do we pick up “vibes” from people

2 person vibing with each other as the sunsets

Oftentimes, we say things like “this person gave me good vibes” or “I think I really vibed with them”.

The “vibes” that we pick up from people are influenced by a large range of factors. From subconsciously picking up subtle facial expressions or verbal tones of others to relating their behaviour to past experiences with others.

One interesting theory is that people also pick up “vibes” through chemosignals.

Chemosignals are signals the human body gives off, often through sweat, through which people can interact.

There were studies conducted by Jasper H. B. de Groot and his colleagues from Utrecht University, in the Netherlands on this particular topic.

In 2012 and 2015 respectively, their studies showed that people were able to pick up on “negative vibes” and “positive vibes” through chemosignals. This could also explain why we vibe with certain people.

However, “vibes” between people are subjective to each individual and due to that, it is difficult to accurately pinpoint how we pick them up.

How do we pick up “vibes” from places?

Places give off “vibes” as well. Some places give off “cozy vibes” such as cafes, some places give off “bad vibes” such as abandoned buildings.

The “vibes” that we pick up from a place can be influenced by the emotional residue that was left behind by others who were there before them.

For example, let’s say you enter a room and it seems to give off “bad vibes”. It could be due to the influence of emotional residue from people who may have had a bad experience in the same room beforehand.

Emotional residue can be also picked up in the form of chemosignals, usually through smelling sweat, tears or other bodily excretions.

Why do we vibe with certain people?

1.) The shared reality theory

Shared reality theory mainly states that when people share similar feelings, beliefs and concerns about life, they can better relate to one another. Thus “vibe” with each other more easily.

This theory suggests that this is because it helps to satisfy their need for interpersonal connection and reaffirm their view of the world.

It also suggests that people tend to want to discover and create shared realities with people they want to get along with.

There was a study done in 2018 about this theory, where they found out that relationships between people often begin when the people discover they share similar feelings on certain issues.

The study also indicates that if the shared perceptions are lost, it could cause problems within that relationship, showing the importance of having a shared reality with someone.

2.) Interpersonal synchronisation

Interpersonal synchronisation

This theory takes a neurological and psychological approach as to why people click with one another.

Studies show that just being in the same space or in physical contact with someone for a period of time would cause your brain waves, fingertip movements and more to sync subconsciously.

In the study conducted on fingertip movements, researchers measured fingertip movements as well as electrical activity in the brains of 2 participants sitting facing one another.

The researchers concluded that the participants demonstrated immediate and unconscious synchronisation between fingertips.

The result of this study enforces the theory that people tend to unknowingly sync with someone in close proximity to them, allowing them to click better.

5 simple ways to click with people!

With all that said, you might be thinking “Okay, so how can this knowledge help me?”

We didn’t want to leave you without some practical tips, so here are 5 ways to click with people!

However, do note that although these tips do increase the chances of building closer relationships, they are not a sure-fire way to build rapport with someone.

1.) Visit places that provide external stimuli

Museum date

Using the shared reality theory, visiting places that provide external stimuli allows both of you to make sense of something new and interesting together. Thus, it helps you click better with someone.

For dates, you can visit places like museums or art galleries. On a more day-to-day basis, such as in school, you can start conversations about schoolwork, teachers or peers.

Gossiping with people around you helps to build bonds as studies have shown, just be sure not to talk about people negatively.

That being said, doing these things does not guarantee that you will click with someone as it depends mainly on the viewpoints you both possess.

This tip would prove to be more successful if you both have similar viewpoints. The activities mentioned above are only to facilitate faster rapport building.

2.) Mirror their body language or vocal tendencies

By consciously mirroring someone’s body language or vocal tendencies such as their tone, your brain activity may match up with theirs as well.

However, be sure not to overdo it. When mirroring body language, wait for a moment before doing something similar to what they did and not their exact movements.

Moreover, try not to mirror actions such as crossing your arms or looking away as they show negative emotions in the conversation.

In a study conducted in 2008, published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 62 students were tasked to negotiate with fellow students.

67% of the time, the students who mirrored body language and speech were successful. On the other hand, those who did not mirror anything were successful only 12.5% of the time.

This study showcases the effect that mirroring can have during conversations.

3.) Participate in activities that require teamwork

Engage in activities such as team sports or co-op online games, given that most of our interactions have been moving online.

This helps to build trust and allows both of you to have a shared experience.

Moreover, using the interpersonal synchronisation theory, spending time and being in physical contact with them may allow both of you to get along better.

In school, you can join co-curricular activities (CCAs) or school events to build rapport with others.

4.) Use their name in conversations

Using someone’s name in a conversation cultivates an atmosphere of respect and recognition.

This helps to foster an environment where people feel comfortable to express their thoughts, thus strengthening the bond between them.

However, this tip can be tricky. Make sure you do not overuse their names as it may be seen as manipulative.

5.) Find a common topic to discuss

2 women at a playground having a discussion

From the shared reality theory, having similar perspectives helps people click better.

Discussing a topic that you both have knowledge, opinions or experience with opens up the possibility of having similar outlooks. Thus, increasing the chances of clicking better with people.

Try to start conversations about similar experiences. For example, you can start conversations about food, sports, school (if you are both still going to school) or even National Service (if you know both of you have gone or are going through NS).

Conclusion

At the end of the day, the exact reasons as to why we click with certain people are still unknown, we can only speculate using what knowledge we currently have.

Hopefully, this article gave you useful insights on the science of why we vibe with certain people.  

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