The research found that a whopping 65% of the “teachers” willingly obeyed the researcher and increased the electric shock level to dangerous. It was also found that 84% of the subjects playing teachers were glad of their involvement in the research whereas only 1% of them regretted having participated. Various other similar studies were conducted and the same outcome was found with different variations.
So why did so many people perform such a sadistic act?
“Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.” – Stanley Milgram
As I said earlier, anyone can act mean given the right circumstances, however, most of us choose to behave decently and ethically as long as we are not provoked or instructed by an authoritative figure. Mean and toxic people are constantly in the “right circumstances” zone as they are unable to experience sound mental and emotional health which motivates them to be mean to others.
What makes people act mean
“How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.” – Wayne Dyer
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why most people tend to be mean and may appear toxic:
1. Lack of awareness
Most of the times what we think to be a mean behavior may happen due to a lack of awareness, lack of knowledge or a lack of skills. And they might not have any intention to be rude, mean or hurtful.
Misunderstanding can make some people appear to mean when in reality it is simply an issue of miscommunication. When information is not conveyed properly during communication it can lead to misinterpretations which may come off as meanness.
Some people may be perceived as being hurtful when their real intention is to help you. For instance, an overprotective parent or husband may appear to mean to the daughter or wife. On the other hand, some people believe that this kind of behavior is necessary to get certain work done. Their real intention is not to hurt you but only to achieve the outcome.
4. Attention seeking
“Negative people need drama like oxygen. Stay positive, it will take their breath away.” – unknown
Some people act mean as they consider this will help them gain attention. It doesn’t matter to them if the attention is positive or negative as long as they get noticed.
5. Low self-esteem
“People who project negativity typically have low self-esteem. They feel badly about themselves, and their negativity is simply a reflection of those feelings.” – Hendrie Weisinger
People who are suffering from low self-esteem often tend to act mean in order to feel superior to others and feel better. This is merely a way for them to protect their weak self-esteem.
Some people can seem to be hurting you intentionally when they are only trying to desperately protect themselves in an effective manner. This can happen when they are unable to take responsibility for their actions and problems.
Some people tend to be very controlling in order to protect themselves and this makes them cause a lot of discomfort for the people around them.
8. Emotional reaction
Most people act mean as a result of the emotional reaction and may be unaware of the impact of their behavior. Although they don’t intend to be harmful, their behavior can be rather intense and hurtful.
9. Frustration & stress
Unmanaged stress and frustration may make someone react in an unpleasant manner just to release their pent-up feelings and tension. Actions and reactions to reduce such mental discomfort can lead to mean behavior.
When someone feels they are superior to others, whether by birth or achievement, can make some individuals to be hurtful and mean deliberately. They tend to be demanding and rude but it is only to feed their ego and even low self-esteem.