The Pratfall Effect

Originally defined by Elliot Aronson, the PRATFALL EFFECT is a phenomenon in Social Psychology that states that an individual’s perceived likability increases or decreases after he or she makes a mistake, depending on that individual’s perceived competence. Thus, when brilliant people err, they appear more attractive or likable as compared to those who don’t commit any or are “perfect” in every sense. On the other hand, a person who is perceived average in terms of competencies would be considered less attractive and likable after committing the mistake.

This means that while the likability of an individual whom people admire or really look up to increases after he or she makes a mistake, the reputation or attractiveness of a perceived average individual would be adversely affected by it.

Pratfall effect occurs because perfection appears threatening to most people and they find it hard to associate with others who are highly competent, perhaps more so than themselves. Imperfect or flawed individuals, on the other hand, seem approachable and a lot less intimidating. Since competent people making mistakes appear more human, they seem to be more attractive and likable.