Negging - Used by Males to Lower Women's Status in Their Eyes.
Today the webcomic XKCD ran a stip on negging:
For people who don't like clicking on links, it is about a man criticising a woman when they meet in order to increase his chance of sticking his pee-pee in her hoo-hoo. As the comic says, it's supposed to, '...undermine their self confidence so they will be more vulnerable and seek your approval.' And that may be true for all I know, but speaking from my position as an observer outside of humanity, what it really seems to be about is status.
You see, like monkeys, most humans are quite preoccupied with status. Many people put a lot of effort into trying to mate with the highest status person they possibly can. But it's not that straight forward. Often people will try to avoid mating with someone who's status is perceived to be too far below their own for fear that it might lower their own status. And to make things really confusing, many people, and I'm thinking particularly males here, while looking for the highest status mate possible, actually find it almost impossible to initiate a mating display with someone whose status they perceive as being higher than their own.
This results in the negger trying to lower the status of his target in his own eyes by criticising her, which then enables him to put on a mating display. Criticism and put downs normally travel in a downward direction from high status to low. If you don't believe me, try pointing out your boss's mistakes to her using the same tone and mannerisms she uses when pointing out your mistakes and let me know how that workplace relationship turns out for you. High status to low status criticism can be a good thing when your experienced boss gives you helpful advice, or it can be a bad thing if she crushes your initiative in order to keep you in your place. When it's done to stick a pee-pee in a stranger's hoo-hoo it is always a bad thing. Constructive criticism involves actually knowing something about the person being criticised.
If the negger can convince themselves their target is of lower status than themselves through criticism, then they are able to engage in a mating display, which may or may not result in a pee-pee being stuck in a hoo-hoo. But if a male cannot convince themselves that their target is of lower status then instead of a mating display, just conversation may result. Some of the differences between a mating display and conversation can be subtle, but they are important and if the male can't perform a mating display his pee-pee is very unlikely to go where he wants it to.
Now this is not to say that negging can't have an effect on its target, it's just that it may not be the only effect or even the main effect. Since criticism tends to flow from high status to low status, criticising someone can make the criticiser seem higher status by association. Or at least it can until everyone reads articles on the internet about it, even articles written by strange people on a hideous green background like this one.