Why We Don't Hold Grudges Against Friends
We just can't afford it, study suggests
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Mar 16, 2014 9:41 AM CDT
We hold grudges about small things.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – When it comes to those close to us, we often quickly forgive and forget a deep offense—but if someone we don't know harms us slightly, we'll nurse our anger far longer. So suggests new research on our ability to hold grudges, io9 reports. Researchers asked participants to write personal stories that they believed would be exchanged with a partner. After exchanging stories, participants would deduce what they could about their partners' personalities. Half the participants were told they'd meet their partner after the exchange; half were told they wouldn't meet again.

The twist: During the process, participants were insulted by their partners. Researchers asked participants how they felt about their "buddy"; unsurprisingly, not so good. But after five minutes, things changed. Participants who believed they were due to meet partners later began to forgive them, whereas those who never had to deal with their partners again kept fuming. The authors theorize that we're essentially protecting ourselves. We won't hold a grudge if it means future pain, as in the case of a loved one—but, as Esther Inglis-Arkell writes, "if a hurt is minor, we can let it fester." Click for her full piece; the study is here.

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Showing 3 of 16 comments
professortech
Mar 19, 2014 9:49 AM CDT
would love to see a gender breakdown on this. In my experience females seem to be able to hold on to grudges over insignificant thgings a lot longer than males. I'm jus' sayin'.
OrneryPup
Mar 17, 2014 4:39 PM CDT
It's not so much about pain as it is about how much one values a friend.
monkbiker
Mar 17, 2014 8:50 AM CDT
With me it's fairly situational and a lot of it boils down to tone of voice and body language / facial expression. There's a certain tone that you can use while disagreeing with someone that, coupled with facial expression and body language, can become a deal-breaker. That tone of voice conveys the message of, "I hate your guts. I want to see your head on a stick." Use that tone of voice with me and all bets are off.