What makes hate a special emotion - and why it matters ideas about the soul (2023)

How can one's hatred compare to anger, contempt, or disgust? A clearer picture of what makes it special emerges

Imagine John, an honest worker whose colleague is bigoted and harasses women. From the first interaction, John didn't like the way his colleague told inappropriate jokes. She recently called John "too soft" after John rejected his offer to steal from her company to "make some extra money". Although he may never openly admit that he hates anyone, John secretly thinks:This guy represents the worst in our society;I hope something bad happens to him and he goes away;II hate him.

What does it mean to say someone like Johnhe hatescolleagues instead of just rejecting or scorning him? People say they "hate" all sorts of things in their daily lives: drama, traffic, math, broccoli, Mondays. However, if you ask them about other people, especially about certain individuals and groups, feelings of hatred usually do not appear so easily. Hate is a difficult subject. When one tries to understand prejudice, terrorism or genocide, one cannot avoid recognizing hatred as one of the main causes.

There is currently no consensus among scholars regarding the nature of hatred. Hate is often described as an emotion, but also as an attitude or feeling. Some scholars believe that hatred is the extreme version of hatredWutLubdislike; Somedescribehate as a mixture of emotions such as anger, contempt and disgust; ANDInsideThink of hate as a separate and unique emotion. Theories also differ in describing the history, triggers, functions, and consequences of hate behavior. However, there is certainly talk of hate speech, hate crimes and anti-hate campaigns.

But we know that hatred is intense and persistent, and seems to be based on the belief that its targets are inherently evil and dangerous. For example, when the Hutus massacred the Tutsi as part of the Rwandan genocide in 1994, the hatred they experienced was apparently based on the belief that the Tutsi were fundamentally evil and should be exterminated. Hate is often embodied by the Ku Klux Klan and other extremist groupscome backDecades or more, spanning generations and sometimes dormant until a new trigger is found. We also know that people can hate their loved onesfacessuch as family members, friends or romantic partners.

Unlike anger, hatred does not seem to be aimed at the victim's behavior per se, but at the victim himself.

However, empirical research examining the specifics of hate is lacking, in part because studying hate is methodologically difficult and research ethics committees are not too happy about inducing feelings of hate in research participants. That's why I recently started researching how the emotion of hate differs from disgust, anger, contempt, and disgust, and I've done a lot of researchstudieswith Jan-Willem van Prooijen and Paul Van Lange at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. We asked US participants to anonymously describe their experiences of these negative emotions to an individual or group. They rated the emotional intensity and duration of each experience, how dangerous they perceived the person or group to be, and other dimensions of the experience. On condition of anonymity, most people openly described people and groups they hate — often with a cathartic level of detail — suggesting that the experience of hate is more common in people's lives than we might imagine.

Our main conclusion is that, across all dimensions, hatred appears to differ more from resentment and anger, slightly less from contempt, and less from disgust. For example, compared to dislike, anger, or contempt (but not disgust), participants rated their hate experiences as more intense. Compared to dislike or anger toward certain people, they rated their hate experiences as more lasting, perceived haters as more threatening to society, and expressed a greater tendency to engage in behaviors such as confrontation, hurt, or insult. People also perceived people they hated as more personally threatening than people they had other negative feelings about. These results suggest that hate is a distinct emotion, but also shares some characteristics with other emotions, notably contempt and disgust.

What explains these differences?between hate and other negative emotions? The answer may lie in part in why each emotion evolved and in the particular way people perceive the targets of each emotion. There are negative feelingsThoughthave evolved as goal-directed mechanisms that help individuals coordinate their physiological, cognitive, and behavioral systems to cope with various threats. Disgust is a general negative emotional state that affects people's preferences. Just because people don't like someone doesn't necessarily mean they want to hurt that person. Instead, they just prefer not to be around her. While hate is a negative emotional state, it indicates that someone really wants to remove the other person from their life completely (as in the case of John who wants his co-worker gone) and may be willing to take steps to make this happen .

When we compare hate with anger, contempt, and disgust, the differences are a little more subtle. People get angry when others behave inappropriately, and anger is intended to change the behavior of the inappropriate person in the short term. For example, if someone lights a cigarette in a non-smoking area, those around them may become angry, and overt expressions of anger (through direct comments or body language) may prompt the smoker to put out their cigarette or leave. However, unlike anger, hatred does not seem to be directed at the victim's behavior per se, but rather at the victim itself (i.e., who she is and what she represents). The purpose of hatred is therefore not to change the behavior of the target person, but to get rid of that person based on the belief that they are fundamentally evil and unchangeable. This is probably one of the reasons why people feel hate for so much longerWut, which often disappears relatively quickly after the unwanted behavior stops.

Hate seems to be linked to fundamental and non-negotiable disagreements about basic moral beliefs

Contempt and disgust, like hatred, are concentrated in the disposition of a person or a group. contemptconsists of"Look up" at others or look down on others, with the aim of belittling and excluding them. it's disgustingare causedwhen people judge others as immoral or undesirable, and the purpose of doing sodisgustconsists in avoiding or distancing oneself from them. However, when people feel hatred, the targets are not only seen as inferior, immoral or undesirable, although they can be seen as everyone. There is something else about them, something that provokes a particularly strong reaction to the point where one may want to eliminate them physically or symbolically (eg by eliminating symbols of the group in the case of intergroup hatred) rather than simply exclude them or avoid them.

So what do people find so dangerous about the objects of their hatred? In a series of recent studies, we examined whether hatred is more likely to be triggered by a threat to people's resources and goals or by a threat to their values ​​and worldviews. We found that participants expressed significantly more hatred for those who held different views on issues such as abortion, drug legalization, and gay marriage than for those who hindered their goals and caused them to miss out on the reward. This may suggest that at least part of what people find particularly hostile to objects of hatred is their belief or perception that these individuals or groups represent something contrary to what they see as just, noble, and right. What is good life or good life good company.

These beliefs are an integral part of people's identities, adding an extra, threatening element to them. People may dislike certain aspects of a person or be temporarily outraged by their behavior, but hatred seems to be linked to fundamental and nonnegotiable disagreements about basic moral beliefs. While these misunderstandings may exist to some extent when people experience emotions such as contempt and disgust (which explains their tendency to hate), these moral differences may exist in people who feel hatred because of the importance of human values ​​as a personal threat in imagination and beliefs about their own sense of who they are. This may elicit more intense emotional experiences and prime individuals to attack rather than avoid targets.

In order to recognize and react to it, it is important to have a good understanding of what hate means and what its dynamics are. For example, political ideologies that exploit identity threats or the perceived evil nature of certain groups can do much more than incite anger in their supporters – they lay the foundations for long-term aggression and fuel divisions in society. By being aware of this, policymakers could do more to combat the spread of hate narratives and raise public awareness. A clearer conceptualization of hate could also contribute to a better understanding of related concepts, such as hate speech or hate crime, and provide tools for legal actions or initiatives against hate. There is still much to learn about this powerful negative emotion, but we are developing a better sense of what it really means to feel hate.


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