The University of Plymouth has conducted a study based on a survey of 140 adults. In the study, the participants here subjected to various hypothetical situations and it was found that they ones who were mean to their partners, were actually the most likely to empathise and want their partner to succeed.
Belén López-Pérez, who authored the study, wrote, "When aiming to improve another person's long-term well-being, people may choose to induce a negative emotion in that person in the short term,"
"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 of the study hypothesised that getting participants to experience empathetic concern for their partner would make them more likely to induce a negative emotion if they believe it will help their partner achieve a goal. Furthermore, the study noted that in order for this to be true, the participant would have no benefit from being cruel.
To test their theories, researchers recruited adults to partake in a series of tasks within a gaming system alongside an anonymous partner. The players who empathised with their partner focused on inducing emotions such as fear and anger to motivate their partner to get better at the game. Whereas players who remained detached didn't induce any emotions.
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."
Next time you're being roasted by your friend, just remember that they have your best interest at heart and are trying to improve your life.