How indulgent are we to loved ones?

, medical expert
Last reviewed: 04.09.2021

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15 March 2021, 09:00

There is an opinion that we behave more indulgently with loved ones and friends than with strangers. But scientists have proven that in reality everything is not so.

We condemn our own friends more seriously. If the guilty person is a close friend or relative, then we react to the problem much more severely - in any case, this is what the researchers say.

Social relations are largely based on mutual activities. Strict self-centered people are considered less successful than people who know how to work in a team, because they lack the necessary friendly support. To maintain normal relations with others, many people, to one degree or another, demonstrate their own feelings of guilt and remorse after making a mistake - for example, apologies are used, vegetative reactions become noticeable (reddening of the face, increased sweating, tearing, etc.), which indicates the presence of internal experiences and fears.

Experts from the University of Portsmouth, led by Dr. Jules-Danier, have conducted research on how friendship affects guilt.

Initially, two volunteers were invited, who were friends: they were asked to solve a certain problem, for which they would subsequently receive a reward. Then the friends were told that one of them did a poor job, so their reward would be lower, but they would have to split it equally among themselves. As a result, the friend who supposedly solved the problem poorly, expectedly felt guilty for the loss and suggested that his partner take more money for himself - as an atonement.

Subsequent experiments confirmed that the greater the feeling of guilt, the more the friend tried to atone for it.

“The result indicates a positive social reaction due to feelings of guilt,” the scientists summed up. "This behavior proves that the person is ready to admit his mistake and wants to say about the unintentional nature of his actions."

Next, the researchers drew attention to the behavior of other participants who faced "guilt" from their friends. It turned out that the closer the relationship was, the stronger their disappointment was, and the less money they gave to the “guilty” partner.

"Such a conclusion contradicts the prevailing opinion that people are more lenient towards loved ones if they are guilty and repentant," experts say. Of course, the results obtained need to be carefully thought out: it is likely that it is necessary to take into account the individual qualities of people, which were not taken into account during the research.

The results of the experiment are presented on the Royal Society Open Science page

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