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If Someone’s Making You Feel Bad They May Be Trying to Help You, According to a Study

Recent research published in Psychological Science claims that making people feel bad is not always that bad. Turns out, inducing negative emotions into a person going through hard times can actually be a part of help for those experiencing them and this article is going to tell you why.

We at Bright Side became extremely interested in this new research and are eager to share its results with you.

It’s all about good intentions.

Sometimes worsening other people’s moods helps improve the mood of the person doing it. However, Belén López-Pérez, and colleagues from the University of Plymouth, wondered if worsening other people’s moods and causing negative emotions within them can actually help those whose mood is spoiled. In other words, can we call making people feel bad an altruistic action?

The scientists outlined some examples encountered on a daily basis where this approach might be the case. For instance, causing a fear of failure within a person procrastinating their preparation before an important project — will it really help them or will it only spoil their process?

Let’s start the experiment!

140 people took part in the experiment where participants were involved in playing computer games with an anonymous player known as Player A. However, in fact, Player A has never been there. Afterward, all participants got a note from the fictional Player A telling them about their recent breakup and the way they were feeling about it. After that, one part of the participants were asked to empathize with Player A, while others were asked to stay detached.

Later the participants were offered to choose a video game to play with Player A. The choice fell between a confrontation game which included a lot of shooting and a zombie-escaping game. Also, they were asked to assess and decide what kind of emotions they would want to see in their partner in order to win the game by listening to certain music and reading brief game descriptions.

An important note: the players were given raffle tickets for a chance to win £50 based on their performance in the game.

The results were jaw-dropping.

The results of the experiment showed that in order to win the game, those who empathized toward Player A were trying to induce certain emotions into their playing partners: fear in the case of a zombie-related game and anger in the case of a shooting game.

“What was surprising was that the worsening effect was not random but emotion-specific,” says López-Pérez. “In line with previous research, our results have shown that 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,” the scientist concludes.

Have you ever noticed yourself inducing negative emotions onto your loved ones in order to help them? Will you tell us more about it, please?