The term ingratiation refers to behaviors that a person illicitly enacts to make others like him or her or think well of his or her qualities as a person. The one who undertakes ingratiation may be characterized as an ingratiating (sycophantic) individual.


Ingratiation is an attempt to gain credibility when the one flatters, squanders praise, and generally tries to please a person with a higher social status. A person uses the strategy of integration when he or she compliments, agrees with the ideas of another, and sympathizes with him or her. If the three-year-old child of the professor spits in the student’s face, and he or she smiles cheerfully and say, “Oh, what a wonderful child!”, then most likely, the student is trying to gain trust. This tactic has considerable power because we all like when someone treats us well. And this is what the one who wants to earn our trustful attitude tries to show. Nevertheless, such a hitch can provoke an adverse reaction if the person whose trust you are trying to gain guesses your goals.

Flattery as a method of integration begins to be applied already at preschool age, and often quite successfully. We quickly qualify the insincere expressions of flattery that some people send to others, but we kindly accept the compliments that they make to us. Ingratiating people express their affection for others and by non-verbal means. For example, when we want others to be sympathetic to us, we can unconsciously imitate their behavior: like them, cross our legs under a chair, rub our chin, and copy their other actions. And this similarity might help well: people like us more when we gently copy their non-verbal behavior; sometimes, they even agree to provide us with more favorable conditions for closing a deal.