In a study that will surprise no one, psychologists have found that hating the same person can bring two people closer.
If this sounds familiar to you, it's actually an improvement on research done in 2006. According to New York Magazine, psychologist Jennifer Bosson got her initial results from, in part, listening to people talk about how they grew close. Then she decided to study things more systematically: they asked undergrads to rate professors, then paired students who liked or disliked the same prof. Result: those with mutual dislike "felt as if they knew each other better."
Of course, humans uniting against a common enemy is the plot of pretty much every alien movie ever. And as NY Mag's Paul Kix points out, admitting to hating the same person is a great way to establish trust: "by going negative — thereby breaking a general rule of first impressions — you signal that you instinctively trust this new person, because you suspect he or she might feel the same way." Just about anybody who's not a saint has experienced that sense of relief that comes from realizing you no longer have to keep up appearances — you can quit playing nice and finally admit how awful you think somebody really is. And when someone else agrees, it's like you're conspiring in something illicit, like sharing a cigarette behind the band room. When lots of people bond over hating one person, it can be exclusionary and sad — but when two people hate an authority figure, or someone everybody else seems to like, the result can feel rebellious and, yes, fun. Hate may not be the most wholesome basis for a friendship, but it's one of the most honest — and it's no surprise that it's one of the most powerful.
Hating The Same Things [NY Mag]
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