Wegotmail: Familiarity breeds contempt: An age-old truth

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The phrase "familiarity breeds contempt," first expressed by the 14th-century English writer Geoffrey Chaucer, encapsulates a timeless reality. According to the Collins Dictionary, it means that if you know a person or situation very well, you can easily lose respect for that person or become careless in that situation. This adage, as old as the Philippines itself, has been used in various contexts but is most commonly associated with romantic relationships. Many of us can relate to this feeling, perhaps in a long-term relationship where the initial sweetness fades, and the excitement of early days diminishes.

However, this phrase extends beyond romantic entanglements. It is equally relevant in professional settings and other aspects of life. The complexity of our feelings makes this phrase particularly poignant. With its potentially negative connotation, it reflects a reality where people easily grow tired, opting to resign, leave a partner, or become indifferent to a co-worker.

Psychologically, what does this phrase tell us? A 2007 study by the American Psychological Association (APA) titled “Less Is More: The Lure of Ambiguity, or Why Familiarity Breeds Contempt” explores this concept. The research suggests that while familiarity initially leads to liking, over time, it can result in contempt. Decades of psychological research support the notion that we generally like people more as we get to know them. However, everyday experiences often contradict this, with friendships disintegrating, business relationships failing, and divorces becoming common.

The study concludes with a thought-provoking insight: "Although people believe that knowing leads to liking, knowing more means liking less." This notion is indeed disheartening. The more we know someone, the less we may respect them. Despite this, respect should endure. Regardless of personal feelings, political affiliations, religious orientations, or gender identities, respect must prevail, transcending our biases and fostering a more understanding and cohesive society.

- George Evan B. Cuadrillero

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