Researchers have discovered that verbal insults may cause a sensation similar to that of receiving a “mini slap to the face,” even in artificial situations such as being alone or in a neutral atmosphere where there is no context. Electroencephalography (EEG) and skin conductance recordings were used by the researchers to analyze 79 different female subjects with the purpose of comparing the short-term effects of repeated verbal insults.
Previous studies suggested that areas of the pain matrix of the human brain are recruited by the processing of pain-related environmental cues such as pain-related pictures or descriptors of pain. However, it is still sketchy whether those activations are specific to the pain-relevance of the stimuli or simply reflect a general effect of negative valence or increased arousal. The present study investigates the neural mechanisms underlying the processing of pain-related, negative, positive, and neutral words.
There is still a lot of mystery around the precise mechanism by which words may convey an insulting or emotionally damaging message to a person at the precise time when those words are read or heard. To psycholinguists who are concerned with how language affects individuals, but also to others who desire to understand the subtleties of social behavior, it is of enormous relevance to comprehending what an offensive remark does to people as it evolves and why this occurs.
Throughout the course of the research, the participants were exposed to three distinct styles of communication, including negative comments, positive statements, and neutral statements. Surprisingly, the researchers discovered that the negative words caused the participants to have an effect similar to being slapped, even under contrived situations such as comments coming from imaginary persons.
A psycholinguistic laboratory test was conducted without genuine contact between speakers, and the results showed that insults provide lexical “mini slaps in the face.” This means that the very negative evaluative words contained in an insult that a participant reads naturally attract attention throughout lexical retrieval, irrespective of how frequently that retrieval occurs. The research reveals that this happens because insults offer lexical little slaps in the face.