A recent study published in Frontiers in Communication suggests that insults—even minor, seemingly insignificant ones—are cognitively processed similarly to a small slap to the face.
Interestingly (almost as interesting as the core object of the study, I would argue), research subjects responded in this way even to insults that were administered in a research setting: not being insulted by a friend or loved one or even a real-world enemy, but to insults hurled by fictitious people in writing that was then read aloud by the subject.
Also, it didn't seem to matter who the insult was aimed at. So even insults aimed at strangers by fictitious people read aloud from a written prompt by research subjects caused those subjects to respond as if they had been struck by a small slap to the face (based on electroencephalography, or EEG readings).
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