You don’t really KNOW anybody. You know how they act around you, but studies show how we act is strongly influenced by how others expect us to act.
Kurt Mortensen gives some interesting examples in his book Maximum Influence: The 12 Universal Laws of Power Persuasion. In one study, assembly-line workers who were told their job was complex performed much slower than workers told the same job was simple. In another study adults completed a maze significantly faster when they were told it was a grade school level of difficulty.
Robert Rosenthal has even found this in rats. Rats introduced to a group of kids as “special maze-running rats” ran significantly faster in a subsequent maze race.
This also plays out in our relationships. We expect our friends and lovers to act in certain ways and they naturally conform to these expectations.
Yesterday we looked at how novel activities can increase self-expansion in relationships. The same can be true when a couple spends time with new people. Shuffling social groups to include some people that you know less well will cause those you thought you knew to act in different ways, further expanding and enriching them in your eyes.