People expect symmetry in social relationships. If you feel friendly toward someone, you likely expect that they feel friendly toward you, too. Chicago Booth’s Anuj K. Shah and Penn State postdoctoral scholar Michael LaForest find that this assumption applies to anonymity as well: when we learn about a stranger, we behave as though they know us better as well. This psychological phenomenon is so potent, they find, that it can even help to deter crime.

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