Home Stories Your Meanest Friend Just Wants The Best For You, Scientists Say

Your Meanest Friend Just Wants The Best For You, Scientists Say


Your “meanest” friend… Do you feel somehow trapped in their negative emotions showed towards you? How many times have you asked yourself if they hate you? Is your meanest friend’s goal to harm you instead of being your friend?

Well, science says, it’s not. Your meanest friend doesn’t necessarily hate you, but they make you feel worse because they are trying to motivate you in everything you do. They want to see you reaching your goals. Your meanest friend wants the best for you and aims for you to be successful.

What is the most surprising of all: Your meanest friend doesn’t think about themselves at all; they think about your own benefit only. “What an illusion!”- you would say. Well, it is actually confirmed by the scientists. 

While some previous research showed that people manipulate with others for their own interest, a new study puts an accent on altruism. This means that by being mean and cruel, people show their kindness and care about others. They are not focused on themselves. They put you as a priority.

The study was conducted by Belen Lopez-Perez, a psychological scientist, and her 2 colleagues. All together, they stated a hypothesis: Would people really act mean for altruistic reasons?

To justify their hypothesis, they “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.”

140 adults participated in this study by playing a computer game with an anonymous partner named Player A. They received a note about their negative emotions because of a breakup. While some of them were asked to put themselves in Player’s A shoes, others needed to stay detached.

After that, participants played video games with a goal: Soldier of Fortune (in which they needed to confront by killing enemies) and Escape Dead Island (where they needed to avoid a room of zombies).

In the end, they listened to some music, read game descriptions, and rated how much they wanted their partner to feel some emotions and whether would these emotions be useful for the game. And all this with one goal: to win £50. If they wanted to win and get the prize, they needed to bear in mind and take other player’s performance into consideration as well.

What did the results show?

Participants who were mean-showed empathy to Player A. They focused on their partner’s emotions and wanted them to succeed.

According to Lopez-Perez, “people hold very specific expectations about the effects that certain emotions may have and about which emotions may be better for achieving different goals.”

“These findings shed light on social dynamics, helping us to understand, for instance, why we sometimes may try to make our loved ones feel bad if we perceive this emotion to be useful to achieve a goal.”- she explained. 

To sum up: People might act mean for altruistic reasons. In other words, your meanest friends will push you forward and help you achieve your goals for your own good.

If your mean friend thinks something might benefit you, they will make you feel bad.  And remember: everything is done with a good purpose, for your own well-being and life improving.

If there is no mean friend in your circle, who would tell you WHAT YOU NEED TO HEAR; who would tell you THE TRUTH? Think about that.


Mary Wright


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