We’ve all heard the expression “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me,” but at times words can be outright mean. With that said, we try to surround ourselves with the best friends possible. Whether it’s the positive vibes we get, or the loyalty from them, the good outweighs the bad.
However, there are always a few friends who we love but at times just can’t stand because their harsh, blunt attitude rubs us the wrong way and can sometimes hurt like needles. This leads us to believe they’re being outright mean.
But science says that this is not the case. Read on to find out what recent findings have shown.
According to research that was published in Psychology Science, people who have a tendency to make others experience negative emptions believe that the impact of those emotions will be beneficial to them down the road.
The research was conducted at the University of Plymouth by psychological scientist Belén López-Pérez, and consisted of 140 adult participants. López-Pérez explains that in most cases our close friends will inflict fear into us to help is, even if it does not benefit them at all.
“We have shown that people can be ‘cruel to be kind’ — that is, they may decide to make someone feel worse if this emotion is beneficial for that other person, even if this does not entail any personal benefit for them,” said López-Pérez.
There have been other studies that suggest people may seek to worsen another person’s mood for their own gain. But based on their own work and examining unselfish behavior, López-Pérez and her colleagues wondered if there could be circumstances where people would worsen people’s moods for unselfish reasons.
“We identified several everyday examples where this might be the case — for instance, inducing fear of failure in a loved one who is procrastinating instead of studying for an exam,” said López-Pérez.
López-Pérez and her team had a theory. They figured that if they had the participants of the study take another person’s perspective it might make them choose a more negative experience for that individual if they figured it would help them in the long run.
So to test their theory, the 140 participants of the study were asked to play a computer game with an anonymous partner, known as Player A, and they would assume the role as Player B. Player B would receive a note from Player A that described their recent breakup and noted that they were very upset.
Some of the participants were asked to imagine how Player A felt, the others were asked to remain detached from the situation.
Then, participants were asked to play a video game so they could make decisions for Player A on how the game would be presented. Half the participants were asked to play Soldier of Fortune, a first-person shooter game with an explicit goal of killing as many enemies as possible (confrontation goal). The other half were asked to play Escape Dead Island, a first-person game with the explicit goal of escaping from a room of zombies (avoidance goal).
Once the assigned game was completed, each participant was then asked to listen to some music clips and read short game descriptions that varied in emotional content. They were asked to scale how much they wanted Partner A to read each description (from 1= not at all to 7=extremely).
Results showed that the participants who were asked to imagine how Player A felt and empathized on their situation played the zombie game and focused on inducing fear (by choosing the fear-inducing music clips and game description.)
These findings were in line with the previous research that López-Pérez and her team had conducted. “”In line with previous research, our results have shown that people hold very specific expectations about the effects that certain emotions may have and about which emotions may be better for achieving different goals.”
As you can see, your closes friends always have your back, even when it doesn’t seem or feel like they do based on their actions. Read on for a list of a few character traits that you should look for when deciding if you should let a friend become a “close friend.”
Trust Worthy: One of the most important qualities that you need in your close friends is that they can be trusted. Whether it’s a secret that you need to be kept or asking them for help on a certain day, you need to know that their word is their bond. The last thing you want is to put your trust in someone and then they turn around and stab you in the back.
Non-judgemental: It’s easy to pick apart someone’s flaws, but your closest friend needs to have an open mind when you confide in them for something. In most cases we go to our friends for advice because we feel comfortable with them. The last thing you want is to confide in your friend only to watch them make you feel even worse about something.
Will Challenge You: You want to surround yourself with close friends that will push you forward not hold you back. A close friend that challenges you to be a better person is someone you want to keep around. For example, if you’re at a job and you feel like you deserve a promotion, you want someone who’s going to tell you to go and get that promotion, not someone who’s going to tell you to just wait and see how things turn out.