Third party hurt: consequences of receiving hurtful messages through a third party
Previous work on hurtful messages focused on receiving hurtful messages in dyadic relationships. However, hurt feelings are also elicited when people receive hurtful messages from individuals other than the person who originally stated the message. The current study examined peoples’ experience of hurt, perception of intent, and tendency to distance themselves from both perpetrators (those responsible for generating the hurt invoking message) and deliverers (those responsible for revealing or delivering the hurt invoking message). The investigation revealed associations between victims’ perceptions of the degree of similarity they shared with perpetrators and the intensity of hurt felt by victims, as well as the degree to which the message threatened victims’ negative face and the intensity of hurt victims felt. For both perpetrators and deliverers, as victims’ perceptions of intent increased, the distancing effect on the relationship also increased. The intensity of hurt victims felt was associated with the tendency for victims to distance themselves from perpetrators. Victims perceived that friends intentionally hurt their feelings to a greater extent than did romantic partners.