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

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We all have that one friend who loves to roast us for no apparent reason and then tell us how much they love us really.

Well, apparently, it’s absolutely true – they do just want what’s best for us – according to science.

A study at the University of Plymouth found people who are snide to their mates aren’t doing it just to be mean, but are actually trying to benefit them in the long run, according to Science Daily.


The study surveyed 140 adults and asked them about various hypothetical situations; they found the subjects who were mean to their partners were most likely to be empathetic and in actuality, wanted their partners to succeed.

The study’s author Belén López-Pérez wrote:

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.


The researchers hypothesised how getting participants to take another’s perspective, might well make them more likely to choose a negative experience for said person if they reasonably thought the experience would help them reach a goal.

It’s definitely one way to get your mates to succeed with their New Year’s resolutions.

To test their theories, the researchers recruited the adults to perform a series of tasks within a gaming system with an anonymous partner, and were allowed to describe the game in ways which framed particular emotions in their partners.

The results showed how the participants who empathised with their partner when making decisions about the game, focused on inducing specific emotions in their partner, which differed depending on the goal of the game.

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Those players, who were told to remain detached, didn’t induce emotions which may have helped them in game, but those who empathised induced emotions, like fear and anger, to try and make their partner better at the game.

López-Pérez wrote:

What was surprising was that affect worsening was not random but emotion-specific. In line with previous research, our results have shown people hold very specific expectations about the effects 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.


So there we have it, when we’re roasting our mates we’re actually doing it to improve their lives, we’re providing a necessary public service.