NEW YORK (CBS Connecticut) – It’s best not to give a jerk the time of day.

A new study finds that it’s better for one’s mental health to end a conversation abruptly if someone is too obnoxious to talk to.

“It’s depleting to force yourself to have difficult conversations when all you want to do is ignore the person,” Kristin Sommer, lead author and associate professor of psychology at Baruch College, City University of New York, told The Vancouver Sun. “Ostracism can serve the regulatory goal of allowing people to conserve resource.”

Researchers used data from two studies with nearly 120 people.

Participants were asked to engage in conversation with another person who was told to act either highly likeable or highly offensive. After a few minutes of conversation, the participants were then taken to a private room to complete an assignment.

Researchers were able to conclude that the participants performed worse on the task after ignoring a likeable person. The researchers also concluded that performance was better when people had used the silent treatment on an offensive person.

Sommer and co-author Juran Yoon explained that “ostracism requires overcoming our natural tendency to reciprocate conversation and thus can be depleting.”

The study was published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.


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