When you shut down a friend with a wise-ass remark and he quotes that medyo gasgas nang lyric, “Why you gotta be so rude?”, your automatic response, of course is, “Because I’m a true bro, that’s why.”

Now, you’ve got hard science to back up your claim. A new study published in Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics in Beijing has just verified your go-to excuse for your jerk-like tendencies, noting that excessive politeness can be a subtle cue for impending betrayal.

Researchers observed player interactions within the war-themed strategy game Diplomacy, “where friendships and betrayals are orchestrated primarily through language,” as the paper describes it. There are no dice involved in the game, so movement and progress depends solely on your powers of conviction.

Set in pre-World War I Europe, the objective of Diplomacy is to invade territories—or supply centers, as they are called—by forming alliances and eventually betraying some (or all) of your "pals" to gain control of 18 supply centers.


In this game, backstabbing a friend is inevitable, and from their experiment, the study authors found that, "in particular, imminent betrayal is signaled by sudden changes in the balance of conversational attributes such as positive sentiment, politeness, and structured discourse." Based on these factors, a computer program was able to correctly predict betrayal 57 percent of the time.

Translation: The more agreeable a player appears, the more likely he/she is to betray you and your alliance. And since this person is extra-nice to you, you probably won’t see the betrayal coming.

But this is not to say that all polite people are lying backstabbers.
When Cristian Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil, one of the researchers involved in the experiment, spoke with Rachel Ehrenberg of Science News, he was quick to point out that the study’s conclusions should be regarded as you would body language: “While you wouldn’t use it as a sole basis for decision-making, if you know how to interpret it, it might give you an advantage.”

Of course, this doesn’t give you license to be an asshole all day err’ day either, lest you end up with no friends at all to begin with.


This story originally appeared on Menshealth.ph.

* Minor edits have been made by the Femalenetwork.com editors.

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