5 Things Everyone Hates (Science Says You Secretly Enjoy)
Let's face it: Humans like to whine. And not just about serious stuff, like our faltering Internet connections or our favorite shows being delayed for stupid news bulletins about stupid hurricanes. We're talking about really petty stuff, like IKEA furniture and office meetings. Even more pathetic? Science has discovered that we've been frontin' the whole time. Some of the very things we love to complain about are things we actually secretly enjoy. Things like ...
Is there any bigger waste of time? The vast majority of work meetings are a bunch of hungover drones pretending to understand PowerPoint presentations while earnestly contemplating whether or not we'd be able to beat Gary in accounting to death with our stapler and leap out of the window before the police arrived.
A question that rests mainly on whether we could resist the urge to also take out Travis in HR.
But According to Science ...
We love those hastily assembled slide shows and awkward suck-up questions (lookin' at you, Gary). According to a study by researchers from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, while the topic and subject matter may bring us down, we get all giddy inside at the prospect of human contact that meetings bring with them.
Once you start building emotional bonds with the faces on your solitaire cards, it's probably time to see real people.
In a survey conducted by Professor Steven Rogelberg, 69 percent of workers reported that their last meeting was "good." Weirder, half of those workers confessed that they regularly complain about meetings, but most of those complainers also grudgingly clarified that they actually enjoy their meetings when they happen, or at the very least don't mind them.
So what the hell is going on? Why does everybody seem to love the chore that Dilbert built a career on disliking?
Don't answer, teleconferencers. We all know how you spend meetings.
As it turns out, we just don't hate our fellow men as much as we purport to. Well, most of them, anyway (still lookin' at you, Gary). Rogelberg theorized that most people only complain about meetings because saying you like them is pretty much akin to committing office social suicide. It is well established that hating meetings is the thing to do, and who are you to say otherwise? Some kind of rebel? Some kind of play-by-his-own-rules, sexy, meeting-loving rebel? Is that tie paisley? Who do you think you are, buddy?
A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Then why are those obnoxiously precocious cartoon instruction manuals from IKEA so detestable? Plus, the furniture is a ridiculous pain in the ass to put together. Why, if IKEA wasn't so much cheaper than a regular furniture store, or if Jim's Discount Housefillins served dollar meatballs, you'd never put up with this kind of thing.
"If they can make good meatballs, why not credenzas?" -the world, apparently
But According to Science ...
As it turns out, it's exactly because we have to assemble it ourselves that we love IKEA furniture. Science has even come up with a term for the phenomenon: the IKEA effect.
The crap you make yourself is always the most meaningful crap.
Not the most daring name, is it? Well, maybe Science was too busy quantum freezing light beams to take "creative naming" classes in college. Maybe you, with your liberal arts degree, can take your complaints up with the Mars Rover -- you know, the thing that roves all over Mars, thanks to Science.
Ahem. We digress.
In this study, researchers gave half the participants IKEA storage boxes that they had to assemble themselves, while the other half were given pre-assembled versions. Afterward, they asked the participants to estimate how much they would pay for their box. Those who had to build their stuff not only placed more value on the items, but also became more attached to them and wanted to show them off to others -- even if they did an objectively shoddy job putting the pieces together and the whole thing was smeared in their own blood after they mishandled the BjurkenSabre in Step Fljorn.
Building a living room isn't always a smooth process.
In a subsequent study, scientists concluded that people like self-assembled goods more, because the very process of putting them together helps the builders feel more competent overall.
"Sure, sure," you might be thinking, "some people are just the do-it-yourself type. Some people love that shit: All birdhouses and shell art on the weekends. Not me, though. Me, I'd prefer my furniture to come pre-assembled and not covered in the impotent tears of my own frustrated fury. I don't want a project; I just want a fucking chair."
"NOTHING LESS WILL SATISFY ME."
Hey, don't get pissy with us: Take it up with Science. Even those who were reportedly uninterested in DIY projects ended up finding more value in the unassembled furniture. No matter how terrible the result is, or how illogical the response may sound, if you build it, you will love it. We imagine it's the same reason parents love their identical twins, no matter how plainly evil and soulless those creatures may be.
What's on TV right now? Probably an endless stream of the same old garbage: rerun after rerun after rerun. Hell, even when it's a new show, it's probably just repackaging the same tired storylines. How many times can you watch that guy fail to deliver the promised mother before you realize he's just a pathological liar and you've been listening to the bastard spin falsehoods for the better part of a decade?
It turns out the mother was their television all along.
But According to Science ...
We love to complain when there's nothing new on TV, but then again, we also buy DVDs and watch them over and over again. We reread our books and have favorite shows we know so well that we can quote them off the top of our head. If the choice is between some new thing that may be terrible or an old thing we know we love, our brains take comfort in "the sure thing."
Our brains would prefer we live in a continual loop of roofies and Frasier reruns.
Human beings are simply not all that crazy about originality, no matter how much we swear, protest, and insist otherwise.
As a kid, you wanted your parents to read you the same bedtime story every single night. And you never grew out of it: You watch, read, or play stories where you know exactly what happens, because your brain isn't looking for surprises. It just wants to experience the same psychological high it's always gotten from your favorite episodes. If your brain were a dog, reruns would be a slobbery red ball.
And clip shows would be pizza crusts.
And that's not all. Another study has shown that reruns can actually restore our energy and willpower. When we watch a rerun, we know what's going to happen, so we don't have to expend much brainpower to process the show. But even with the factor of surprise removed from the experience, we still get the same feeling of entertainment. And this helps gives us a mental boost for when we actually have to put our brain to use later on. So go ahead, watch every single episode of Gilmore Girls for the 16th time: If anybody makes fun of you, tell them you're just banking your productivity for later use.
We all, on a cellular level, recognize the awesomeness that is a deep-fried Snickers bar. You cannot dispute it, and you would only make yourself look foolish trying to do so. We know junk food is terrible for us, but we still enjoy it, despite the guilt.
"Oh, yeah. Guilt. Sure."
But According to Science ...
It's not in spite of, but rather because you feel guilty that you're really digging on that Burnut (a hamburger with doughnuts in place of buns). In fact, if you didn't feel guilty about consuming a week's worth of calories in a single sitting, you wouldn't like your Cold Stone CakeShake nearly as much. This phenomenon doesn't just apply to food. It can be virtually anything you know you're not supposed to enjoy, but do anyway.
Silly Terrence. He'll regret not folding those pants first thing tomorrow!
In a series of studies, scientists induced feelings of guilt in volunteers, presumably by forcing them to talk to their grandmothers about their career choices for 10 solid minutes. The participants were then given a candy bar that they were told was part of a taste study. Those who were primed with guilt reported that they enjoyed the treat significantly more than those who weren't. A later study identified similar results in women who were given the opportunity to view the online profiles of men they might be interested in dating. Those who were made to feel guilty first ended up getting more enjoyment out of ogling some bros (brogling, if you will).
Scientists suspect that this effect is mostly due to societal conditioning. We're still pretty judgmental of one another, especially when it comes to "moments of weakness." As such, we experience guilt alongside or immediately after pleasure so often that we've gotten the two confused. We got our shame chocolate all mixed up in our orgasm peanut butter.
Reeses Pieces orgy, anyone?
And now we can't even decide if we're hungry or horny. Thanks a bunch, Science.
When the Bad Guy Wins
If movies have taught us anything, it's that we're all naturally programmed to unquestionably hate on evil. Especially if that evil is packaged in the form of an entitled, pretty-boy jerkbag. You see this nowhere more than sports movies: The undeserving dickhead quarterback is right up there with "guy mysteriously petting a cat" on our list of folks we want to see brought down a peg. And nothing is better than watching people like that get their comeuppance. Crane kick, Daniel-san!
When Mitch Guncar finally dies of syphilis, we feel like justice has been done.
But According to Science ...
Sticking with sports: It doesn't matter how much of a dick the winner is. As long as the show is good, people will still enjoy watching the competition. Even if the winner in question is given the most cartoonishly evil backstory possible -- even if he's a greedy landlord brutally triumphing over a team of haggard hockey-playing orphans -- it doesn't affect our enjoyment of the event.
We don't care that these guys both have rich dads who plan to shut down the youth center.
In one experiment, a group of people were asked to watch some speed skating footage, after which they were given one of two scenarios. The first group was told that the winning athlete was a walking paragon of virtue, while the second was told that the winner had tested positive for illegal drugs and was just generally an unrepentant tool.
Why they couldn't have just used Tour de France footage is beyond us, but we're no scientists.
We're barely cyclists.
The researchers then gauged the enjoyment each participant had experienced while watching the footage -- a term used very loosely when applied to speed skating -- and found no discernible difference between the two groups. After all was said and done, regardless of the winner's personality or worthiness, the audience simply enjoyed taking in an exciting athletic competition.
Of course, during the footage, people were inclined to root against the dicklord and support the nice guy. And afterward some voiced feelings of disappointment if the bad guy won -- but this disappointment did not affect how much they enjoyed the event overall. So basically, it doesn't matter if you're a giant inflated douchebag, as long as you win with style.
That's true with a number of things.
Sorry, every single movie filmed during the 1980s: Science says you're full of shit.
Scientists say you'll definitely like Karl Smallwood's Twitter account, purely because you get to laugh at his last name. He also has a blog. Dennis runs a group blog and a crowdsourced dating advice site. He'll do cartwheels if you follow him on Twitter.
For more things science hates to break to you, check out 5 Random Factors That Determine Whether You Succeed in Life and 6 Reasons Assholes Are Healthier (According to Science).
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out Fat Is Officially Incurable (According to Science).
And stop by LinkSTORM to learn why we should all agree to punch science in its stupid face.
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Related Reading: For the exact opposite of this article, read Adam Brown's look at supposedly fun activities no one actually enjoys. Next, read the sequel and admit that not a damned soul has ever enjoyed a game of Monopoly. More interested in the things people really hate? Read this article and learn why your zoomed in profile picture makes the world despise you. And if you'd like to know why your pet hates you, read this article and stop hugging your dog or locking eyes with your cat.