overly nice people Regina George

Have you ever wondered about the people who are suspiciously overly nice?

Like in the fictional movie Mean Girls, Regina George had her signature move being overly nice and then stabbing her friends in the back. As this film makes a good case for those who are just a little bit too nice, maybe they have different addenda. So you may want to watch out for those friends who have never said anything rude to you or a bad word to your face – they could be saying it behind your back instead.

Science backs this idea up with a new study presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics in Beijing, which suggests we may need to do a double take on those who are “too nice” and overly polite. The study found that those who are highly nice to their peers are more likely to stab them in the back than their less polite counterparts.

In order to understand this area better, researchers used the game Diplomacy, in which players have to act as though they were European countries in the pre-World War 1 period. Without a dice and no way to move the game along other than the use of communication, players need to form allies with other countries in order to win the game, find out information on each other and betray each other. Researchers looked for signs to see if the language used could be linked to betrayal within the game.

As a result, it was found that just before a betrayal, there were attributes such as positive sentiment, politeness, and structured discourse. It later became clear that those who were overly polite were more likely to betray the other players later on in the game. An exchange between characters within the game shows us how seemingly nice people betray others.

Germany: Can I suggest you move your armies east and then I will support you? Then next year you move [there] and dismantle Turkey. I will deal with England and France, you take out Italy.

Austria: Sounds like a perfect plan! Happy to follow through. And—thank you, Bruder!

This was said just before Austria betrayed Germany and invaded its territory, despite that it seemed that Austria was on Germany’s side.

Although it may be hard for us to predict when betrayal may occur, a computer managed to predict betray 57% of the time within the game of Diplomacy. These findings may give us a reason to be wary of overly nice and polite people and give more trust to those who are slightly ruder.

The question is – can we really predict whether people are going to betray us based on the research that only used a board game as its preliminary results?

What are your thoughts on this? Have you had any negative experiences with overly nice people? Share your opinion with us in the comments below!

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I'm a law student who is fond of reading and writing about interesting topics on science (especially cognitive science and psychology), technology, and different extraterrestrial and paranormal stuff. I'm passionate about movies, travelling and photography.