My understanding of the research presented is that if something good happens to us, we associate the people who happened to be present with feeling good. Later, we’ll still like them more because we still associate them with feeling good. The opposite also holds true: if something bad happens to us, we’ll later associate the people who were present with feeling bad, even if they had no part in the action that made us feel unhappy.
According to the article, “there is a lot of work in Psychology showing that you can come to like someone (or some thing for that matter) not because of anything they have done, but just because you tend to feel good when you are around them. There is a procedure called evaluative conditioning that shows how this can happen.”
It makes me wonder if we stepmoms could use this effect to our advantage. Maybe there's more pay off than we realize to showing up at more school plays and kung fu DVD marathons and leaving the room more often during difficult situations which don’t require our involvement. What do you think?