Why Do We Get Attracted To Mean People?

Have you ever thought about why we sometimes get attracted to mean people?
Of course, you’ll find that these people are not always mean if you think about it.

They may be mean at times, but at other times, they do nice acts that make us wonder if they are really mean and keep us up excited and always wanting to see more of their kindness.

Usually, people don’t fall for someone who is totally mean, but they usually fall for those who treat them in a good way sometimes and badly in other times.

The Effect Of Uncertainty

In 1955, A. E. Fisher experimented with puppies. His team separated puppies into three groups. Members of the first group were treated kindly every time they approached a researcher. Members of the second group were punished for approaching the researcher.

Members of the third group were randomly treated kindly or punished. This group grew up never knowing what to expect. Their world wasn’t a word of kindness or punishment but rather one of uncertainty.

What is really surprising is that the study found that the third group of puppies ended up being the most attached to the researchers. They loved the researchers the most and were the most dependent upon them.

This became known as the polarity principle.

The Polarity Principle

Stress, including the mental stress of uncertainty, is an ingredient in attachment or love. Perhaps, even manifestations of hatred (the polar opposite of love) somehow strengthen love.

Uncertainty can lead to some of the greatest feelings of attachment and dependence we humans know.

Being at a loss to know whether a person is mean or kind makes us curious and attracts all of our attention towards that person as we try to understand and know the rule that makes that person half-mean and half-tender.

The truth is that humanity is the third group of puppies. We get attracted to people who “only sometimes” give us what we want.

Unpredictable Partners

In another study, participants showed the most pleasure when they were rewarded without having predicted it. It didn’t even matter whether they liked the reward very much or not. It was the fact that the reward was unexpected that made them highly excited.

In our love lives, we become excited by the fact that this person “may” or “may not” call or show any signs of care. We wait for him/her to surprise us.

In behavioral terms, the ups and downs of relationships with unpredictable lovers can be explained by the term “partial reinforcement” (or limited rewarding). When you know that you will certainly be rewarded, you will learn a behavior quickly, but you will become a lazy responder.

Lab animals who are rewarded every time they do a task correctly slow down because they know that the next time they want their reward, it will be waiting for them. However, if they don’t know when their next reward is coming, they will remain eager to perform the task hoping that one magic act will produce the much-desired reward.

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