The Psychology of Being “Liked”

One of the fundamental traits of humanity is the need to be liked. We crave acceptance from our friends, peers, and loved ones. This isn’t egotism talking; it’s built into our DNA. For our long-ago ancestors, survival was a group effort – if you were banished from your tribe, you were pretty much issued a death sentence, left to fend for yourself in a world where saber toothed tigers and woolly mammoths ran amok. Being liked was the key to survival.

Even today, being liked is a necessity if you want to accomplish a goal that requires teamwork. Remember Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman? To him, being liked was the entire philosophy on which his career hinged, the only way he would ever succeed in the business world.

Being liked is an affirmation of our self-worth. It’s proof that we are “on the right track,” that our very existence is meaningful.

You could even argue that being liked is the key to happiness.

Sure, there are people who claim, “I don’t need to be liked.” I don’t buy it for a second. Everybody wants to be liked, whether they admit it or not.

I’ve noticed that this desire to be liked has extended into the realm of social media, where a “like” is the ultimate measure of acceptance. Think of Facebook or Instagram, how happy you are when somebody “likes” your post or photo. The more hearts you receive or thumbs-up you garner, the better you feel.

Or maybe that’s just me. After all, I’m the one who recently lamented the lack of a viral post – the ultimate sign of being liked. By a whole bunch of people, no less.

All I know is, I am addicted to the positive affirmation that accompanies being liked. It’s the reason why I feel compelled to update my blog on a regular basis, even when I have nothing to say. And why, if a couple of days pass and I don’t upload a photo to Instagram, I start to go a little nuts. Attention feels good. It’s like a drug. Get a little and you start to crave a lot.

It also explains why I like to be unique and always strive for creativity. I hate following the pack. A perfect example of this is Rowena Crest.

Rowena Crest is an overlook in the Columbia River Gorge and site of a well-known looping highway that resembles a horseshoe and has been featured in magazines and automobile commercials. It’s one of the most commonly photographed spots in the Pacific Northwest. The problem is, every picture ends up looking exactly the same – some subtle variation of this.


Naturally, I wanted to do something different. So I wracked my brain for awhile, and came up with my own (hopefully original) take.

Found a great new racetrack for my Hot Wheels!

Because sometimes, getting those “likes” requires a little outside-the-box thinking. Or in this case, outside-the-Hot-Wheels-box.


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

13 thoughts on “The Psychology of Being “Liked”

  1. I totally understand this. And it drives my husband nuts. LOL I’m always looking online. And there were 2 weeks I didn’t blog at all and I felt like such a bad human.

    My life is jam packed with projects right now, so it’s hard to fit everything in, but I am doing stuff I love mostly. I wish I knew what to blog about. That’s where I’m struggling currently. What will be of interest to readers?

    Happy Easter to you and Tara! Stay out of trouble!


    1. I know what you mean, Jess. It doesn’t help that I write for a living – love it, but it’s hard to be “on” all the time. I am always going through periods where I wonder what to write about next. Hope you and Joe have a great Easter, too!


  2. Mark, I think my years spent as a stage actor taught me a lot about being liked. I agree with you, it’s a wonderful feeling to receive praise (or likes) for a post or a photograph. However, it’s also very important for me to stay aware of how much that praise or likes effect how I feel about myself. Because if I “need” that praise or likes from other people to validate my ability to do something, then it’s a never ending quest.

    As an actor, there were times when I got glowing newspaper reviews about my performances which yes, made me feel really good. And there were also times (many in fact) when I got horrible reviews, in which I was verbally slammed, which made me feel bad about myself. For many years, I allowed reviews to delegate how I viewed my talent as an actor and how happy or unhappy I felt about myself.

    Yes, it’s nice to be praised or liked by people. But it’s all relative because some people will “like” me and some people won’t. Everyone will see me differently.

    I’m not saying that I don’t give a shit what others think of me. But what I am saying is that I won’t allow what others think of me to delegate the level of happiness I feel about something I created – or how I feel about myself.

    I share my blog posts and photographs in the hopes that others enjoy them. But I can’t make people like them.

    Oh, and btw…I freaking LOVE your photograph. VERY clever!

    And BRAVO to you!


    1. With your acting background, I’m not surprised you deal with those same feelings of being liked. It’s essential to the craft, after all! I read a blog called “Wait But Why” and they cover some very interesting topics, such as how too many people care about what others think of them when, in reality, they’re rarely thinking anything about them at all. I think you’d like it, Ron! And I’m glad you enjoyed the photo.


  3. First, love that photo and think it is perfect. Having been there and seen that exact spot I am guessing I can see it in my minds eye and from your perspective. I love the Columbia Gorge, think it is one of the most beautiful places on earth.

    As to the rest, you are right we all crave some level of affirmation to say otherwise is either because we are trying to front or we are unaware of our own needs.


    1. I love that I have lived here for more than 20 years now and am still seeing many of these places for the first time. Rowena Crest has been on our list for years and we just finally got around to checking it out. The good thing about waiting so long: I had plenty of time to plan the “perfect” pic!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Very nicely written and true to the word. We all want to be loved and appreciated, even praised. I am leaving a reply here to elaborate my statement and hopefully bring a smile on your face.


  5. Very clever. Didn’t know where you were going with that. Just how I used to feel in Psych lectures when the professor was getting too serious about which way the rat would run.


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