Here’s something to keep in mind if you’re planning to hit your hometown bar over the holiday weekend: According to a study out of Stanford University published earlier this week in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, “people are systematically biased in their judgments of peers’ inner lives, underestimating the prevalence of negative emotional experiences… people may think they are more alone in their emotional difficulties than they really are.”
The translation: Your old high school friends aren’t as happy as they might appear to be. And you shouldn’t feel bad that other people’s perceived perfect lives make you feel a little miserable. It’s totally normal, Debbie. Researchers also think that this is why “humans seek out tragedy in entertainment,” which puts a slightly darker spin on our addiction to gossip magazines and shows like Teen Mom.
So why does it happen? People tend to be happier when they’re in company and suppress the negative emotions that they do have, because it’s considered more socially acceptable. It’s probably worth noting that the study was inspired when psychologist Alexander H. Jordan, now a research fellow at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, noticed that some of his friends became “upset after reading others’ posts on Facebook.” So this applies to those annoyingly chipper status updates in the virtual world, too.
[via Chicago Tribune]