One of the surest routes to friendship is disliking the same things about other people.

That’s the conclusion of the snappily titled study “Interpersonal Chemistry Through Negativity: Bonding by Sharing Negative Attitudes About Others.”

Jennifer Bosson, one of the social scientists who conducted the study, says:

“We found a very robust tendency for people to mention more negative than positive attitudes about other people.. and the closer the friends were, the more negative attitudes toward others that they shared.

They tested this among total strangers too and the sharing of negative attitudes also formed closer bonds.

Here’s an excerpt from the abstract of the study:

Presumably, sharing negative attitudes is alluring because it establishes in-group/out-group boundaries, boosts self-esteem, and conveys highly diagnostic information about attitude holders. Despite the apparent ubiquity of this effect, participants seemed unaware of it. Instead, they asserted that sharing positive attitudes about others would be particularly effective in promoting closeness.

I suppose I might have assumed that the positive attitudes would’ve been more effective too. Oops.

But as I think about it, I have to admit that relationships where both of us are pleasant ladies all the time never develop any traction.


Filed under: Friendship


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