Everyone wonders whether or not their friendships are really true sometimes. In the past, the only way to see if a friend really did care was through building up trust slowly over many, many years.
But now scientists have discovered a much easier way of testing a friendship.
A study published in Psychological Science has highlighted an easy way for people to see if a friend is really real.
You have to see if they will make you feel bad when you tell them that something negative has happened in your life.
But what they are supposed to say back is really strange.
If they do indeed make you feel bad, then that says that they’re a true friend and not a faker.
Sounds weird, right?
At first, this system seems to go against the basic principle of friendship. Aren’t friends supposed to make you feel better?
The study says that that isn’t necessarily the case.
In actual fact, the study says that a true friend will often “try to make someone feel negative emotions if they think experiencing those emotions will be beneficial in the long run.”
Think of it as a form of tough love.
This means that if you give a friend bad news about your circumstances, such as a break-up, and they just try to focus on making you happy, then they aren’t a true friend!
But someone who tries to make you angry over those who have wronged you is a friend indeed!
Another way of thinking of it is that human minds are wired with a “no pain, no gain” mentality.
And a friend who feels comfortable with another friend wants them to go through that process when a bad thing happens.
“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.” Belen Lopez-Perez, Research Scientist.
The experiments that the scientists undertook to discover these results were pretty exhaustive. They employed a number of original methods.
They found 140 adults to take part in a study. They paired random people together to play a two-player video game with one another.
Then each member of the study was given a note that said that the other player had recently gone through a break-up and that they were extremely upset and feeling helpless.
The participants then played the video game with each other.
After playing the game, each participant, on their own, listened to music clips and read game descriptions that had different levels of emotions in them.
The scientists then asked the participants how much they wanted their game partner to read different content or hear different music.
Then the scientists asked the participants how much they wanted their participants to feel angry, fearful or neutral before playing the video game again.
This test showed that time and time again, “the participants who empathized with Payer A focused on inducing specific emotions in their partner, depending on the ultimate goal of their computer game.”
The music clips and descriptions that the participants who empathized with their gaming partners chose were always much more anger inducing.
Lopez believes that this test can help us understand why our friends and loved ones sometimes try to make us feel bad. It’s not because they’re jerks, but because they are trying to make us use emotion to achieve a positive end goal.
The moral of the story is that those friends that can sometimes seem mean to you and tell you stuff that’s hard to hear are often those who have your best interests in mind!
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Source: Science Daily