Rudeness spreads like an illness, until we decide to stop
A new study in the journal of Applied Psychology shows that rudeness has a ripple effect, negatively affecting interactions outside the initial one.
I saw a film the other day in what was mostly an empty movie theater. Some whispering a few rows behind me apparently annoyed another moviegoer, and before I knew it, there was a shouting match.
That's just the most recent example that comes to mind of how rudeness can quickly escalate between two people: One impolite response begets another, and another... But a new study in the journal of Applied Psychology shows that rudeness has a ripple effect, affecting interactions outside the initial one.
In experiments performed at the Warrington College of Business Administration, when individuals were prompted to share money with each other, they were less likely to share with people who were rude to them.
But experimenters determined that this bad feeling carried over into the next lab-controlled interaction. After Michael and Stephanie had a rude encounter, for example, Michael was automatically less friendly with George.
Our reaction to rudeness is more than social. It's biological. Researchers also found that our brain picks out rude words and impolite intonations faster than neutral speech and text. It seems we're on high alert against rudeness, and once we encounter it, our un-thinking response is to be rude back.
But that's the difference between the spreading of a cold and the spreading of rudeness. We can consciously decide not to be rude while we can only lessen the likelihood of spreading a cold.
Read more at The British Psychological Society.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
The way that you think about stress can actually transform the effect that it has on you – and others.
- Stress is contagious, and the higher up in an organization you are the more your stress will be noticed and felt by others.
- Kelly McGonigal teaches "Reset your mindset to reduce stress" for Big Think Edge.
- Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Three scientists publish paper proving that not Venus but Mercury is the closest planet to Earth
- Earth is the third planet from the Sun, so our closest neighbour must be planet two of four, right?
- Wrong! Neither Venus nor Mars is the right answer.
- Three scientists ran the numbers. In this YouTube video, one of them explains why our nearest neighbour is... Mercury!
The blood of horseshoe crabs is harvested on a massive scale in order to retrieve a cell critical to medical research. However, recent innovations might make this practice obsolete.
- Horseshoe crabs' blue blood is so valuable that a quart of it can be sold for $15,000.
- This is because it contains a molecule that is crucial to the medical research community.
- Today, however, new innovations have resulted in a synthetic substitute that may end the practice of farming horseshoe crabs for their blood.
The distance between the American dream and reality is expressed best through literature.
- Literature expands our ability to feel empathy and inspires compassion.
- These ten novels tackle some facet of the American experience.
- The list includes a fictional retelling of the first Native American to graduate from Harvard and hiding out in inner city Newark.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.