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 a different agenda.

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.

The Diplomacy Game

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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This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Annette

    I think these days its difficult to say, because people who are really nice, get stabbed in the back aswell, nice and kind should be normal things , why should you not be nice to your neighbour, fellowman? In my experience nice and kind can be dangerous not because these are qualities not to be trusted, but they are qualities narcistic and sociopatic peope use, which they actually dont feel, but use to trick , use and betray others, too bad there seem to be more and more of these people, and they give actual nice people a bad reputation.

  2. Peter Chabanowich

    The nature of betrayal is vast and nuanced involving the entirety of the human being: psychology, emotion, physical attributes, locale, political conscience, moral compass and so on. To expect a computer game to enlighten us in this quadrant of experience is naïve at best.

  3. Hannes

    I don’t know about this. Basing people’s real life loyalty and honesty on their behavior in a strategic board game, where social stakes are almost non-existent, is not going to be very representative.

  4. Tiffany

    I have to agree with many others here that this study may do more damage than good. When we use science to validate reasons to be wary of people that may or may not fit the bill, reasons we could not possibly validate ourselves in the field of interaction, the results can be dangerous.
    I can guess that many people might call me an “overly-nice” person. This is due to the fact that I was raised to value others over myself. But I genuinely want people to feel accepted in my presence. Many empathic people are this way, as well as some lightly autistic-spectrumed people who find human interaction difficult. Sometimes I can tell someone believes me to be ingenuine, and I could learn to tone it down a bit I’m sure. But I have no bad intentions, and I would hate for a study like this to cause others to be wary of me.
    Furthermore, the reason I subscribe to Learning Mind is because it generally only tells good news, or news that can benefit mankind. This type of article just doesn’t fit the bill. It feels more sensational, like other, similar articles I try to avoid on other sites.

  5. Freddie Aflague

    Sort of on the fence with this article. Some people are just genuinely nice people. These people are unselfish and will prove their true nature through their actions, not words.I’ve been nice to people who’ve taken that as a sign of weakness. For those who are genuinely nice people, beware of those not so nice people. Every now and then you have to throw the trash out.

  6. Jackie

    All that said, be very careful of co-dependents. They are also nice and overly-generous even but loves to be victims – whether you were abusive or not. Fine snakes that think the world owe them something.

  7. Alina

    The It is more about overly polite, and “unnaturally nice”, like you can sense it’s fake and cold inside

  8. Saunders

    I don’t think you science to evaluate this. I have, in my working and life experience come across this. Its not just the overly niceness that you need to be alert to it is also body language and your gut instinct and your consciousness of the person. These people tend to be egotists and the only word they know is “I am”. . I think most of us have come across this type of individual and your gut alerts you what to look out for.

  9. Anonymous

    P: Mr. President, I recommend you start storing and building nuclear in the US.
    T: I believe you are absolutely right.
    P: Now all we need to do is send someone undercover to plant a detonator and we’ll hack into their computer systems and take out the US once and for all!

    N: What if? Now what if this were true motives of Russia?

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