Employers and dates want to hear about your struggles, study finds

Americans are transfixed by the geniuses who roam among us. But when it comes to our everyday lives, a recent study finds we prefer the people who admit they’ve put effort into making it.

The article, published in bi-monthly journal Basic and Applied Social Psychology, dispels preconceived notions some people have about how to impress a potential employer, or even a date. Though we may be inclined to mask our shortcomings, the author’s experiments actually indicate that showing some vulnerability can help us win people over.

Talent’s not enough

It’s true that when we stress our natural talent, we tend to be perceived as more competent. But while it’s obviously a plus to be capable, talent and competence aren’t what makes someone like us. Especially in communities that emphasize a Protestant work ethic, we’re more likable when we admit we had to work hard for what we’ve achieved.

The same goes for our personal lives: People would rather date someone who struggles than someone who is inherently talented. That means it’s finally okay to be human! There’s no need for perfection; in fact, it may work against us.

What about gender?

Given that women are less likely to emphasize their accomplishments, we might expect that they’re more inclined to talk about the effort it takes to succeed. But in this study, the author found negligible difference in how each gender chose to talk about their achievements. So though it may be more difficult to get women to vocalize what they do right, once they do, their explanations are similar to the ones used by their male counterparts.