Mean Girls Explained: Why Disliking The Same Things (Or People) Spells Friendship

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And a friendship is born.

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A new study shows what teenage girls have known for decades–being mean can be a surefire way to make friends.

It may seem counterintuitive, but ask anyone who’s made it through high school and they’ll likely agree. A shared dislike of something — and especially of someone — is a great way to bond with a potential new friend.

(More on TIME.com: How to bully-proof young girls)

The study, published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin and discussed by New York Magazine‘s Paul Kix, found that college students who completed surveys naming professors they didn’t care for felt that they bonded more quickly with other students who disliked the same professors.

“There’s something really powerful about the discovery of shared negative attitudes,” said the study’s author, University of South Florida’s Jennifer Bosson.

As Kix points out in his article, it’s true that social politeness is what’s expected of people, especially when first meeting one another. We’re supposed to say kind things about other people. Yet, when someone sheds the facade of etiquette and says something nasty (that you happen to agree with), an illusion of closeness is formed.

You should give it a second thought before using this method of friend-making, however. If you say something that runs counter to what the other person thinks you could wind up making an enemy. Or you could just end up being a bully–which is never recommended. (via New York Magazine)

(More on TIME.com: How not to raise a bully)

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