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Psychology of Liking

by Scott H
(Tucson, AZ, USA)

Photo Credit: Brave New Films

Photo Credit: Brave New Films

Can anyone answer: Is it a global (cross-cultural) phenomenon that if a person really likes or dislikes someone/something, that no matter what that object of like/dislike does, the person will defend a "bad" thing if the person likes the object, and will find fault in a "good" thing if the person dislikes the object?

It's certainly prevalent in the U.S. Example - politics, conservatives vs. liberals. Need I say more? The example that prompted my question was that a story came out that the presence of a Wal-Mart actually reduces the prices of surrounding store by a little, at least early on (good), and also found that the presence of a Wal-Mart is associated with a slight weight reduction in the surrounding population (good).

It also pointed out that there was a concurrent slight drop in people exercising (bad) and brought up but didn't answer whether the Wal-Mart drives local businesses under (bad). The author disclosed having no financial interest in Wal-Mart. But comments accused him of being paid by Wal-Mart to write the article (which pointed out bad things as well - if I were Wal-Mart I wouldn't pay for that article) and such.

Personally, I'm fine never setting foot in a Wal-Mart the rest of my life so defending them isn't high on my list, but trying to be objective, I found it hard to be skeptical - it's just another part of the story. So back to the question - is this attitude cross-cultural (I'm sure it is to some extent, but is it more prevalent in the U.S?), and then more importantly, why this type of attitude (I could come up with theories, but are there any studies that back up certain theories?) and most importantly how do we teach people to be more objective (which ultimately makes people more tolerant)?

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