Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and Bar-Ilan University in Israel have discovered an inconvenient truth about our female family members.
Wives, sisters and mothers are more likely to be the most difficult people in our lives, according to a survey of 1,100 respondents who described more than 12,000 relationships.
Women may be guilty of doing the lion’s share of whining, nagging and controlling in relationships, but the study noted that it’s for a good reason.
Female family members were most often labeled as difficult because they’re usually emotionally invested in relatives’ lives.
The respondents included people ranging in age from their early 20s to their 70s, all of which were San Francisco Bay Area residents. More than half of respondents were female.
‘The message here is that, with female relatives, it can be a two-sided thing,’ said Claude Fischer, a senior author of the study.
‘They may be the people you most depend on, but also the people who nag you the most.’
‘It’s a testament to their deeper engagement in social ties,’ Fischer added.
Overall, respondents said they considered about 15% of their relationships to be difficult.
Siblings, spouses, aging parents and colleagues were also lumped into the ‘difficult’ category, though next of kin were considered more annoying.
Friends, meanwhile, were least likely to be difficult, accounting for roughly 7% of respondents ‘annoying’ relationships.
‘The results suggest that difficult people are likely to be found in contexts where people have less freedom to pick and choose their associates,’ said Shira Offer, the author of the study.
The data was collected as part of a wide-ranging study, called the University of California Social Networks study, launched in 2015, which aims to look at how people’s social connections affect their health and happiness.
Researchers involved in the Social Networks study found that social ties can be as stressful as they are joyful.
In particular, older people were more likely consider relationships with co-workers or acquaintances as difficult.
‘Whether it’s an alcoholic father whom you want to cut ties with, an annoying friend with whom you have a long history or an overbearing boss, relationships are complicated and in many cases unavoidable,’ Fischer said.