While it could be taken as toxicity, a study has proved that your meanest friend just wants the best for you. 



According to a study published in Psychological Science, your meanest friend may actually be the one who cares about you the most.

This will not come as breaking news to many Australian males, often prone to lovingly calling their closest friends the C-bomb.

This research is slightly different, however, having found the friends who say things you don’t want to hear, and who push you out of your comfort zone do so because they believe it will help you in the long run.

“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,” explained Belén López-Pérez, a lead researcher on the study.

“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,” López-Pérez noted.

The researchers hypothesized that prompting participants to take another person’s perspective might make them more likely to choose a negative experience for that person if they thought the experience would help the individual reach a specific goal.

140 adults were asked to play a computer game with an anonymous partner, (Player A, who didn’t exist). After receiving a note supposedly written by the other player, some participants were asked to imagine how Player A felt, while others were told to remain detached. The note described Player A’s recent breakup and how upset and helpless they felt about it.

Participants were asked to make decisions on Player A’s behalf in a gaming scenario. Half were asked to play 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 a first-person game with the explicit goal of escaping from a room of zombies (avoidance goal).

The results showed that the participants who empathized with Player A focused on inducing specific emotions in their partner, depending on the goal of their computer game. The study suggests that empathy led people to choose negative emotional experiences they believed would ultimately help their partner be successful in the context of the game.

So goes the saying, ya gotta be cruel to be kind. A ‘tough love’ kinda deal.




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