Bullying Makes Bullies and Their Victims Unhappy

New research reveals more links

Bullying has been a hot topic in the American consciousness for a few years now. But while the victims of bullying are recognized and often treated with counseling, little outside of individual counseling work has been done to help the perpetrators. Perhaps this is because they are harder to empathize with, but new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, hopes to shed light on this under-measured phenomenon.

The research shows that for a victim, experiencing ostracism—being deliberately ignored or excluded—hurts (to combat the effects of this, may we suggest smiling at people?), but for the perpetrator, ostracizing someone else could hurt just as much. Humans typically avoid causing harm to others when they can. By causing harm to others, perpetrators thwart their own basic psychological need to feel connected to others.

In the experiment, victims (ostracized participants) felt more anger, while individuals who did the ostracizing (perpetrators) experienced more shame, guilt, and distress. These negative emotions are the ones that could be better served with recognition and counseling, helping to address root causes.

Ultimately, the research underscores humans’ fundamental nature as social creatures. “Our results highlight that it goes against the grain of people’s psychological needs to exclude others,” says lead researcher Richard Ryan.

Image: Some rights reserved by malias

Category: Psych

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